Yuzuru Hanyu set for top Japanese Honour
Yuzuru Hanyu is set to become the youngest recipient of the People’s Honor Award in Japan.
The national award recognises individuals and groups for achievements in sports, entertainment or culture.
The 23-year-old became the first male skater in more than sixty years to win back-to-back Olympic golds at PyeongChang 2018.
The last man to achieve this feat was America’s Dick Button in 1952.
The announcement of his latest award was made by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, who said that Hanyu’s exploits ‘gave dreams and thrills to the people and hope and courage to society.’
Since it was established in 1977, the award has been presented to 25 individuals and one group.
Hanyu’s presentation ceremony will be held July 2 in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s office.
Hanyu’s journey to the top has been a far cry from the smooth glide of his performances on the ice.
In 2011, while the skater was practising at a local rink, a magnitude 9.0 mega-quake and tsunami devastated the Tohoku region where he lived.
Hanyu was forced to evacuate along with thousands of others.
“I am humbled to be given such a prestigious prize.” Hanyu said in a statement of the People’s Honour Award.
“I hope this will be a bright light to the disaster-hit area and the skating world.”
Dubbed the ‘Ice Prince’ by his legions of adoring fans, the Japenese government’s decision to give Hanyu the award has been well received.
After his title-winning performance in PyeongChang, a reported 100,000 people attended a parade in his honour in Sendai, the city of his birth.
The skater is also renowned for his lucky charm Winnie the Pooh.
Following many of Hanyu’s performances, stuffed Pooh bear toys rain down on the ice from the stands as a mark of affection for their champion.
After each Pooh-bear raining, Hanyu’s sister and parents collect the toys and donate them to the Skating Federation, and to children on the city in which he is competing.
What does Hanyu do with all those Winnie the Poohs?
What does Hanyu do with all those Winnie the Poohs?Whenever Yuzuru Hanyu completes his routine, fans shower the ice with Winnie the Poohs. But happens to them?
Rich Olympic History
Hanyu will be the youngest to win the award, but he won’t be the first Olympic champion to be recognised.
Other gold medallists to have been bestowed the prestigious accolade include wrestlers Saori Yoshida and Kaori Icho, marathon runner Naoko Takahashi and judoka Yasuhiro Yamashita.