Sochi champion Hanyu named in Japan team for Pyeongchang

Sochi champion Hanyu named in Japan team for Pyeongchang
Figure Skating - ISU World Team Trophy - Men's Free Program - Tokyo, Japan - 21/4/17 - Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan competes. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
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(Reuters) – Yuzuru Hanyu will defend his figure skating title at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics after being named in the Japan team but will not compete until then, the Kyodo news agency reported on Monday.

The 23-year-old has been battling an ankle injury since November when he fell while attempting a quadruple Lutz jump in practice and had to withdraw from the grand prix final in Nagoya earlier this month.

He has not competed since and will miss the Four Continents championships next month in Taiwan in order to make sure he is ready for the Winter Olympics, Japan Skating Federation director Yoshiko Kobayashi told Kyodo.

“Considering the time we have until the Olympics, (the JFA) believes that he can make a comeback,” Kobayashi said. “I hope he drives the young athletes as Japan’s ace.”

Hanyu has resumed training but is not practising jumps just yet, Kobayashi added.

Hanyu took gold at the Sochi Games in 2014 and is also the reigning world champion, which earned him selection for Japan’s Olympic team despite missing the national championships, which doubled as a qualifier, at the weekend.

The Winter Olympics run from Feb. 9-25.

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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