Since the morning of April 10, 2017, one particular topic regarding a certain athlete’s retirement has been making its rounds on Japanese news programs. Many people were surprised with the sudden announcement that was made as Japan’s figure skating star, Mao Asada (浅田真央), decides to leave the ice rink at 26.
Mao Asada, also known as “Mao-chan (真央ちゃん)” to many Japanese households, is one of Japan’s top competitive figure skaters. Originally from Nagoya (名古屋), Aichi (愛知), Japan, she started figure skating back in 1995 at the age of 5, switching over from ballet with her sister, Mai Asada (浅田舞).
Mao’s first figure skating achievement was in the 2002-2003 season of the Japan Novice National Championship where she won and was invited for the Junior Championship competition. One of her most notable achievements in the world of figure skating would have to be during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics where she brought home the silver medal.
Out of all the moves Mao has made, she is well known in figure skating for her trademark move, the triple axel jump.
Starting figure skating from a young age and achieving such magnificent feats at the same time, Mao-chan has surely become a popular name in Japan. Aside from numerous sponsors and endorsements like Coca-Cola (コカ･コーラ), Lotte (ロッテ), and Kao (花王), she launched her own kimono (着物) brand in 2011 – MaoMao (マオマオ). She also once had her own weekly radio program called “Mao Asada’s Nippon Smile (浅田真央のにっぽんスマイル)” back in 2015. And this 2017, she had a collaboration with doll brand Licca (リカ) who produced a doll version of her.
News of Mao’s retirement first came out on April 10, 2017 when she announced it on her blog (Japanese only). While it may be a shock to the whole country, the figure skater has taken on this huge decision due to a certain reason – a lack of motivation.
As Mao stated in her blog, after finishing 12th place in the Japan Figure Skating Championships in December 2016, the goal that kept her going had just disappeared, resulting in the loss of motivation to compete. And since coming back to the competition after her break following the 2014 Sochi Olympics, the figure skater has not been able to get the results that she was hoping to achieve.
Mao also mentioned that figure skating has become a part of her life. News commentators say that it feels like she is taking a part of her away at such a young age of 26 with her retirement. But the country is here to support the former figure skater as she finds her new goals and dreams in life.
It is no doubt that the pride that Mao Asada has brought to Japan could not be easily compared, especially in her field where many people were astounded with her performances. While the only thing that we can do is to support her in her future endeavors, the gratitude that we have for Mao will always remain.
Mao Asada’s Official Website *Japanese only