New Straits Times

Dual Olympian Hirano on board for Beijing

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TOKYO: Only four months have passed since Japan’s Ayumu Hirano (pic) competed at the Tokyo Games, now he is gearing up for another crack at Olympic gold — this time on Beijing’s snow in February.

Hirano took part in the park competitio­n as skateboard­ing made its Olympic debut this summer, missing out on the eight-man final after finishing 14th out of 20 in qualifying.

The 23-year-old — who sports dreadlocks — will be on a more familiar footing assuming that he makes Japan’s snowboard halfpipe team for the Beijing Games, having claimed silver at the past two Winter Olympics.

But time is against him as he makes the switch from one board to another, with only two months left until the Games begin on Feb 4.

“I have to fit my preparatio­ns into a shorter time than ever before and it’s a new experience for me,” Hirano told reporters this week. “It’s a race against time. I’m in a situation where I have to hurry.”

Hirano made his Olympic debut as a 15-year-old at the 2014 Sochi Games, finishing second behind Iouri “iPod” Podladtchi­kov in the snowboard halfpipe.

He claimed silver again in Pyeongchan­g four years later, losing out to American legend Shaun White for gold.

Hirano proved his versatilit­y by becoming a dual Olympian at Tokyo’s Games and hopes it will help in his quest for glory in Beijing.

He said the experience made him mentally stronger and he is expected to again contend for Winter Olympic gold in Beijing.

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