Japan’s Olympic champion Kodaira to retire
Japan’s former Olympic speed skating champion Nao Kodaira will retire from the sport in October following a final race in her hometown of Nagano, the long track speed skater said on Tuesday.
The 35-year-old won Olympic gold in the women’s 500 metres in Pyeongchang four years ago, as well as a silver in the 1,000 metres. She also won a silver in the team pursuit event in Vancouver 2010, alongside Masako Hozumi and Maki Tabata.
Kodaira had a disappointing outing at the Beijing Winter Games in February, finishing 17th in the 500m and 10th in the 1,000m.
“I’m nervous about what I’m about to say,” Kodaira told a news conference. “I ... will run the last race of my career this October at the national single distances championships.
“When I thought about how long life is, I didn’t want it to be only about speed skating. I felt that now was around the right time.
“There are several reasons but I wanted to race one last time while I still can physically. I wanted the last race to be at home in (the Shinshu region)”
Kodaira won 500m gold at the World Single Distance Championships in 2017 and 2020.