Figure skating superstar Yuzuru Hanyu was awarded the Medal with Purple Ribbon decoration by the Japanese government on April 28, for the second time in four years.
The honor came after the skater won gold in the Pyeongchang Olympics in February of this year, becoming the first men's singles figure skater in 66 years to successfully defend his Olympic gold.
"I feel the gravity very much because I know few people are given this medal twice," said a joyous Hanyu of the government award.
He was among nine gold medalists in the Pyeongchang Olympics and Paralympics who were given the medal at the government's spring decoration conferment. Nao Kodaira, winner in the women's 500-meter speedskating, said she now has to "think carefully about the life I will pursue" as someone with the prestigious honor.
Speed skater Nana Takagi, who earned two golds in women team pursuit and women's mass start, told reporters that skating officials told her the decoration means a lot, while her younger sister Miho, who also competed in the team pursuit, said, "I feel so honored."
(Japanese original by Chisa Fukuda and Hitoshi Kurasawa, Sports News Department)