TOKYO -- Two-time Olympic gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu received the government's People's Honor Award from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a ceremony at the latter's office in Tokyo on July 2. The 23-year-old athlete became the youngest individual recipient of the prize.
With his success at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea in February, Hanyu became the first male figure skater in 66 years to win two consecutive Olympic gold medals. He achieved the historic feat despite having his right ankle injured during a performance about four months prior to the competition at the games. The Japanese star earned his first gold at the Sochi Winter Games in Russia in 2014.
On top of these achievements, Hanyu also became the first Japanese athlete to win a gold medal at the Pyeongchang Games, boosting the morale of the Japanese national team. All these factors were taken into consideration in presenting him with the People's Honor Award.
A native of the Miyagi Prefecture capital of Sendai in northern Japan, Hanyu experienced the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011. In response to receiving the people's prize, Hanyu commented, "I hope this award will be a bright ray of light for the areas affected by the earthquake, and for the figure skating community."
The People's Honor Award was introduced in 1977, and Hanyu became the 27th recipient and the first to receive the honor in the Japanese skating community.
(Japanese original by Chisa Fukuda, Sports News Department)