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Mao Asada announces sudden retirement from figure skating

Mao Asada

Japan’s Mao Asada shows her gold medal during the awards ceremony of the ladies free skating competition at the world figure skating championships in Saitama on March 29, 2014. Japan’s Mao Asada won her third women’s world figure skating title on March 29 before a roaring home crowd, springing back from a disappointing result at last month’s Sochi Olympics. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)

AFP/Getty Images

One year after Mao Asada said she planned to compete through the 2018 Olympics, the three-time world figure skating champion announced what she called a “sudden” retirement from competition Monday.

The 2010 Olympic silver medalist previously took a one-season break after winning her third world title in March 2014, one month after a disappointing sixth-place finish at the Sochi Winter Games.

Asada came back in 2015 but struggled, winning once in seven international starts the last two seasons and bottoming out with a 12th-place finish at the Japanese Championships in December.

“After I came back to competition, I wasn’t able to pull off the performance and achieve the result that I expected, and I started to worry more,” Asada, who reportedly dealt with a knee injury this season, wrote in a blog Monday, according to an Icenetwork translation. “When I finished the last Japanese nationals, the goal that had been motivating me disappeared, and I lost the energy to continue my competitive career.”

Asada, 26, changed her mind in recent months. Immediately after Japanese nationals, where she had her worst result in 14 appearances, she said she planned to compete next season, according to Japanese media.

It would have been very difficult for Asada to make Japan’s Olympic team. The Japanese qualified two women’s spots for PyeongChang, their fewest since 2002.

Asada leaves competitive skating as an innovator in the sport, regularly performing the triple Axel, a jump no top women currently attempt.

She would have been a gold-medal contender at the 2006 Torino Olympics, had she not been too young to compete in those Winter Games.

Asada won her first world title in 2008 and took silver behind Yuna Kim at the Vancouver Olympics. The following month, Asada beat Kim for her second world title in Torino.

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