[ENG TRANSLATION] Yuzuru Hanyu x Rikako Ikee – Special Talk: ‘Simply, in order to win’ – 210715

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Yuzuru Hanyu x Rikako Ikee – Special Talk: ‘Simply, in order to win’.

Q: It’s your first time speaking to each other but what sort of impression do you have of the other?

R (Rikako): I think you probably have heard this before but my most memorable moment was seeing Hanyu-senshu win the gold medal at the Pyeongchang Olympics. I have acquaintances who figure skate and I also enjoy watching skating. That day, I was competing in a competition in Japan (Konami Open) but when I found out Hanyu-senshu had won at the Olympics, I thought ‘the fact there exists someone who has worked so hard and put everything he had into it means that I can do it too’ and I raced the 200m freestyle. At that competition, I broke the Japanese record and received an incredible result. 

Y (Yuzuru): I’m thankful (laughs). For me, well, I sound a bit like a senior citizen to put it like this but I’ve always thought that even though she’s young, she’s had to shoulder the weight of various things and has worked really hard. Of course, she had to deal with her own illness*, but there were also other things like wanting to give courage to others who were also sick and wanting to get better, all of that. While I feel that she doesn’t have to bear all of that weight, it’s perhaps because she has carried these burdens that she is strong. If I had to put it in one word, well, I feel that she’s amazing. 

*Ikee was diagnosed with leukemia at 19yrs old in February 2019. 

R: It’s true that I’m carrying even the knowledge that I shouldn’t shoulder these burdens. After recovering, I’ve felt at all races that I’m almost like a representative for those who have been ill. But even if I wanted those weights to become lighter, there’s a part of me that feels like I don’t know how to create that version of myself. I feel like that’s something I can’t do much about. 

Y: For me too, since I was sixteen and the 3/11 disaster happened, I felt, from that point on, that I started to really shoulder various things. Even now, I try wherever possible to accept requests to help out with [financial] support and recovery in the affected regions, but at the time I thought of it as an incredibly heavy weight. I had won all the titles in Juniors and was debuting as a Senior [skater] and it was around the time we were competing for a place in the World Championships. Then the disaster happened and I became something like a representative of the disaster. Not as a representative of Japan. I had given my all to become a representative of Japan [for the World Championships] and had finally secured the right to compete as a Senior, but suddenly, I was being thought of as someone who had been chosen to be the representative of Japan [in figure skating] only because I was someone doing my best in the affected disaster area and I felt very frustrated. I felt strongly that the hard work I had poured everything into was not really for the sake of the disaster or the affected areas, but merely because I had wanted to become stronger. But after a year, my mindset did change. After the Japanese National Championships at the end of the year, I had time to read the letters my fans had sent and it really dawned on me that I had so many people who were supporting me. I had only been thinking of showing my true ability to the world as a representative of Japan, but whether it was as a representative of the disaster or as a representative of Japan, I was thankful for the support and felt at the time that the most important thing was to work hard while accepting that power. At the World Championships the following March, I was injured but I really felt that everyone’s support carried me to the very end. It also first occurred to me that my acceptance of that support was connected to my results and that [these results] were a form of repayment to everyone. Now, conversely, I’m in a position to give positive energy and I’m aware that there are various things I can say precisely because I am who I am. I wonder if perhaps we have the same feelings about this.

R: Yes

Y: Ikee-san, when you were diagnosed with the Olympics approaching so quickly, I’m sure you must have felt very uneasy and it was also right at the time you were achieving great results so I imagine it must have been even harder. When I found out about the news, I also really felt that it must have been so incredibly difficult. Now, seeing Ikee-san conquer your illness and seeing you work so hard has also become a call of encouragement for those who are currently suffering from the illness and people who have recovered from it and are also doing their best. That sort of weight is a pressure unrelated to swimming and I’m sure you’re feeling various things because of it, but this is absolutely something that only Ikee-san can do, and something that only I can do as well. The pressure is really heavy isn’t it? 

R: Yes, but from my perspective, it seems like Hanyu-senshu always takes to the rink full of confidence.

Y: In the swimmer’s case, when the announcer calls out the lane numbers and such, there are a lot of cheers of support but many competitors will raise their hands and acknowledge them, don’t they? I think it’s really amazing. For me, I’ve got my earphones in until the very last moment and look on while thinking things like there’s nothing I can do. 

R: I’m the opposite – when there are cheers of support when my name is called, I’m the type that feels like ‘everyone is supporting me, everyone is looking at me. Okay, let’s do this.’

Y: So you enjoy being watched then?

R: Rather than liking to be watched… I suppose it’s that I like the version of myself who swims fast. Before – I think it was in 2017 – I was competing in an international competition and swimming together with the athlete who held the world record. That athlete’s coach was her husband and his way of showing support to her was really peculiar. Not only was he shouting, he was really clapping things [to make noise]. The race came down to the two of us, and I swam thinking ‘okay, those cheers are for me’. That was really fun. I do wonder if that is indeed something that indeed influences the results.

Y: Truly, the power of support is really huge isn’t it. In [these coming] Olympics, you may be dealing with restrictions on audience numbers so there may be no audience cheers but I do think it’s significant that the power of cheering will be transformed. In my case, I used to think it was really heavy and painful to bear but [now] I think the heaviness is energy; that this heaviness is energy that allows me to keep my feet on the ground and I’ve been able to start changing my thinking to the idea that it’s because I’m nervous that I’ll be able to put out a good performance. It’s because we’re in this time* that not only will there be people interested in swimming but also I’m sure there will be many more people than usual from various backgrounds who will be cheering you on and – though I’m saying this a little irresponsibly – there will be power in that, so I’d like you to think of it as such and do your best. 

*T/N: Based on context, he could mean the Tokyo Olympics in particular or just the general time/era.

The things necessary to resist the atmosphere and nerves of the Olympics

R: Thank you very much. I have something I’d like to ask about the Pyeongchang Olympics – it was your first return to competition after your injury wasn’t it? I thought that for an injured athlete – with the various pressures that are there precisely because of the injury – to achieve such incredible results, they must have such strong mental strength. Watching that, I thought I was surprisingly quite weak mentally. Hanyu-senshu, have you had moments when you’ve gone into competitions without confidence in yourself? 

Y: The times I lose confidence in myself are times like when I can’t practise properly, or can’t accomplish what I want to do or wanted to do something to a particular point [and couldn’t]. But when I go into a competition, generally, I’m overflowing with self confidence. I was indeed injured at Pyeongchang and took really strong painkillers and was in a state where I had to basically numb all sensation. Therefore, I couldn’t say that I had properly practised, and in reality, I was not in a good place mentally going into the competition. But I did have the personal experience of getting gold at the Sochi Olympics. On the other hand, I didn’t really have a good performance at Sochi. I also knew the bad sides of having prior experience at the Olympics. Therefore, it wasn’t really as scary. At the time, I had analysed what had gone wrong and properly learned ways to cope with thoughts like ‘oh, if only I had done this or that’. On top of that, in the four years between Sochi and Pyeongchang, I had faced similar situations countless times, so I had continued [to think about] ‘if this happens, then it’ll be good if you do this’ and ‘if you do this, you’ll definitely win’. Even if I couldn’t do a good practice, even if I happened to be injured, I had the confidence that I would absolutely win only the Olympics. 

R: That was probably a really important feeling. If you didn’t have that self confidence, you may have been overwhelmed by the atmosphere. 

Y: Also, isn’t it often said that there’s ‘power in language’ (kotodama). If you speak with positive language, your outlook improves and if your outlook improves, your heart feels lighter. What I said didn’t change me to that extent though. But that was the only thing I could depend on; after all, I was so nervous for the Olympics, and I’m also not mentally strong at all. 

R: Is that right?

Y: Really. I get told a lot, including from people close to me, that I’m mentally strong and that ‘you can put out a great performance when it truly counts at a huge competition’ but I’ve never once thought that I was mentally strong. I get extremely nervous and there’ve been times I’ve been trembling before a competition. But you could say that it’s because I know that I’m this weak that it’s okay if I do these things, or perhaps precisely because I was weak that I learned how to think in this way. I was extremely conscious of the fact that what I said out loud was what would influence my mind, so the moment I entered Pyeongchang, I said ‘only the gold medal will do’ and ‘I’ve come here only to win’. Almost like I was already victorious. And I believed that if I did that, the results would follow. 

R: What did you do about your anxiety towards your injury?

Y: I didn’t have any worries the moment I arrived at the venue. Before I left, I had already made up my mind. At the time, I had four types of quad jumps, but I was only able to properly jump two types and was uncertain about whether I should add the third type of quad in competition. But in practice, I hadn’t succeeded at landing the third type of quad even once. It was the quad loop jump, so I had to both take off and land on my injured right foot. For me, it was a jump that came with experiencing pain in the injured spot exactly where I thought it would happen and I was extremely scared. In reality, my muscles had also deteriorated severely so I couldn’t do it [either]. But in the practice before Pyeongchang, I told myself, ‘Oi you, if you land this, you’ll absolutely be able to win at the Olympics. If you can’t land this, you can’t win, and if you can’t win, you don’t even have the right to go to the Olympics’. That’s what I told myself as I practiced – ‘You won’t have the right to go, ya know that?’ And so in the last five minutes of my last practice, I landed the loop successfully. It was at that moment that I thought ‘I won’ and left [for Pyeongchang], so I really didn’t have any sense of anxiety at all. Though I didn’t end up jumping the loop at the Olympics. 

It will be Ikee’s second appearance at the [Tokyo] Olympics and Hanyu’s third appearance at the [Beijing] Olympics. As Hanyu said earlier, making multiple appearances is rewarding in itself so are you able to feel a sense of accomplishment in that?

R: Yes. I think I’ll be going to the Olympics this year with a completely different feeling to 2016. However, I’m still only 20yrs old, and I don’t know how many times I will go to the Olympics, but I’ll go to these Tokyo Olympics thinking about them as a preparation step for the Paris Olympics in 3 years time. Of course, the competition this time is important and I strongly want to achieve results, but this time I’m not competing in an individual event but as part of the team, so I’m thinking I’ll get the results and then Paris is waiting for me beyond that. I think perhaps this time, I might be able to take on the Olympics without overthinking it too deeply. 

Y: Is that how you really feel?

R: Really really, it’s my true feelings. I didn’t even really have the drive to go to the Olympics up until my victory at the Japanese National Championships and the selection of [Olympic] representatives in April. Since it’s been decided, of course I’ll do my best but because my personal goal is the 2024 Olympics, I went into that selection competition thinking that it’s okay even if I don’t get on the podium this time. Precisely because there wasn’t any weird pressure, I feel like maybe that’s what enabled me to achieve those results. 

What’s been the most kuyashii thing recently? And in all the Olympics you’ve been in until this point, what’s been the most memorable thing?

R: I thought there’s no point going to the Olympics if you didn’t secure a medal. I didn’t manage to win a medal, but when I was returning home from Rio, even though I had been travelling together with everyone on the plane, when we landed in the airport, we were told ‘Okay, medallists please go here’ and were separated.

Y: Ah, yes, there was that feeling.

R: I went to the Olympics, competed in the final and broke a lot of records in Japan but it was then, at sixteen years old, I first learned that only breaking Japanese records and just competing in the finals was not it. I think there are many people who say to athletes that ‘there’s significance in going to the Olympics’ and ‘it’s significant that you were able to compete at the finals’, but to me, I feel keenly as a competitor that there’s no point if I don’t get a medal, or rather perhaps that it isn’t interesting. 

Y: Mm, somehow that’s great isn’t it. I like that (laughs). I also, like I said earlier, told myself before leaving for Pyeongchang, ‘if you don’t get the gold medal, you don’t have the right to go’. At the time, I didn’t think about this but when I look back on it now, when I think about how many people have supported me so that I can continue competing, I would feel very apologetic if I couldn’t deliver results. When I think about the [dietary] supplements* I’ve invested in for the sake of competition, the costs of the skating rinks, coaching fees, travel costs, and various other things, I’ve spent an incredible amount of time, money and effort. Of course, this also applies to the people who are cheering me on but I really feel like I am really indebted to the people who have supported me directly**. Therefore, I think it’s natural to think ‘if I’m going to compete, I want to achieve results’ and ‘I want a medal’, and ‘I want a gold medal.’ I think to be able to think that way means that you have high expectations for yourself and that you can clearly see your ideal vision, so I think it’s really good. Though there are people who would say that you can’t think like that too.

*T/N: Based on context, we think he means vitamins and the like.
**T/N: Implied by the contrast here that he is referring to people who have supported him materially in the things he mentioned above. 

You two are athletes who can relate to the feeling of ‘I want to win’

Y: It’s because we want to win that we work so, so hard and train. 

R: I agree. I compete in order to win. Having the will to put in however many tens of hours, hundreds of hours of hard work for the sake of a single competition is something very necessary for an athlete. 

In Hanyu’s case, we’ve also seen you say that it’s fine if you can put out a performance that you can be satisfied with

Y: That’s just something simple that I say for myself (laughs). For me, what I view as ‘victory’ has changed. In terms of victories, I’ve secured all the titles I wanted, so what I think of as a goal doesn’t necessarily equal winning anymore. For example, if I purely wanted to win, I think the quadruple Axel, which is the jump I’m currently striving for, isn’t necessary to include. If that was my goal, if I focused instead on increasing the types of quadruple jumps and on constantly putting out good performances [instead of the quadruple Axel], I would definitely win. But truthfully, you could say that as a competitor, I think it would become boring, or I would lose motivation. In Ikee-san’s case, I would think that you would probably be single-mindedly chasing after beating your [racing] time. 

R: Yes. Of course, there are instances where I’ve put out good times but I don’t get a medal so those are really difficult. I hold a lot of records domestically and have been victorious at the Japanese National Championships many times but I haven’t won a medal at the World Championships or the Olympics. Everyone thinks of me as ‘an amazing athlete’ but I’m not an athlete who can compete for a World medal yet. If I can become an athlete like Hanyu-senshu, where winning a World medal is an obvious thing, I think it’d be even cooler, coming from the perspective of someone who hasn’t yet won a medal [like that]. 

Y: I think anyone in that position should feel that just winning will be fine, above things like your time or form. Though I tell myself right now that the Axel is my number one goal, truthfully deep down, I also still think that there’s no meaning if you don’t win. I think it should be okay to feel that, shouldn’t it. Especially for the Olympics. 

R: Yes it should. It’s a competition where winning has meaning to it. 

Y: I think it’s fine just to think ‘I want to win’. And then, really intensely examining what you should do in order to win, and if you can consolidate that… then maybe you won’t feel the nerves so intensely. Well, for me that is (laughs). 

I want to ask you both about what you’re most frustrated about recently

Y: What frustrates me are all the times where I can’t overcome my limitations. The quadruple Axel is really incredibly difficult. I really ran away from it a lot – telling myself things like ‘oh but I’m too old’ and ‘maybe this isn’t something humans can do’. The thing I’m most frustrated by is that I tried to find ways to run from it. 

R: Me too – I suspect we may be similar but there are times when practice isn’t going well. Above all the emotions, I think ‘I can go as far as I want’ but even if I chase after that, my body cannot keep up; it’s painful and the fact I can’t swim like the other athletes is the biggest source of frustration. 

Y: It’s really frustrating when other athletes can do things you can’t, isn’t it?

R: Yes. Conversely, because they were things I could do up until this point [that I can no longer do], I’ve started to feel like it’s fruitless. Though I try to tell myself that it’s not true. To be frank, my past self was really amazing and when I compare that to my current self, it really feels like I practice while feeling frustrated almost every day. When I lost at the Japan Open in June, I thought I don’t want to lose ever again. So when it’s truly an exhausting moment in practice, I tell myself to remember the frustration of losing in that moment and try to give it my all to the very end. 

Y: Of course, I also can really relate to becoming unable to do things that I used to be able to do. As a result of continuing to work on the quadruple Axel, I became unable to do the other jumps, and as a result of that I also got injured, there were indeed things like that. Though I didn’t have such painful memories to work through, I’d wonder ‘why can’t I do such an easy thing?’ When I look at everyone around me, they’re steadily improving and I’m only regressing and no matter how much I try to improve, I can’t do it – I had those thoughts last year and it was indeed really difficult to deal with. In my case, I can only express my emotions through my skating. Of course, I was in the middle of various projects like putting together comments regarding the 3/11 disaster and also for COVID-19 and I really thought hard about my words there, but ultimately, skating is the number one way I express myself. This is unrelated to what the people watching me are thinking or taking away, what I like is being able to go ‘wahhh’ and say ‘this is how I feel!’ When I do this when no one is looking, that’s when I feel ‘I really love skating.’ I suppose you could say that’s how I could think of continuing on. Do you think like that too? Like if you can’t swim, you can’t use all the energy in your body, that sort of thing. 

R: I really think that too 

Y: That feeling of accomplishment really can’t be found other than in skating or swimming right? For example, even if you really love games and you complete something really hard, it’s over in an instant. But when it comes to skating, once you’ve accomplished something, it’s soon followed by thoughts like ‘Aw yeah! Okay, I’m going to do this next’ isn’t it? The feeling of accomplishment is like nothing else. It’s like you live for that. 

R: I really, really understand that feeling. When I won the Japanese National Championships in April, of course I think I may have become a great source of strength to those who were affected by cancer and who had painful memories and also people working hard in the middle of recovering from the illness. However, ultimately, if we speak about why I continue swimming, it’s simply that I love swimming, that I want to win competitions and taste the happiness that comes from it – that’s something I noticed.

The theme right now is: I’m working with all my might towards this. Do you have thoughts about overcoming your own limits and wanting to see things that no one has seen before?

Y: I really have the desire to become the first person to land the quadruple Axel. 

R: For my event, there’s a huge gap between international and Japanese [results]. For example, the world record for the 100m butterfly is 55.4s. My domestic record before my illness was 56s. That gap of 0.6s is a huge gap in swimming. However, I don’t feel that there’s anything that foreign athletes can accomplish that I can’t do. I believe I can do it, and that I could even go beyond that. I feel that I cannot define my limits and there are things that foreign athletes and time can teach me. When I think about it like that, it’s really fun. 

Y: Figure skating doesn’t have too much to do with physique but there is that correlation in swimming isn’t there?

R: Very much so. 

Y: Though I think Ikee-san has been blessed in regards to that. How tall are you again?

R: I’m 171.9cm, or so.

Y: So we’re about the same height.

R: Oh really? But foreign athletes can be 10cm taller than me. Also, their muscles and physiques are really really good. I do think ‘can I really win against these people?’ but you could say I don’t want to show my limitations in that respect and that I strongly want to prove that it has nothing to do with physique. I think that’s where swimming is really interesting. 

Y: And when you do that and work hard, you hit against the wall of despair [at times] don’t you?

R: Ahh well, in reality that does happen (laughs)

Y: But when you overcome that, it becomes fun again

R: I feel like it’s fine to do it bit by bit, if I’m to overcome this. 

Ikee is fighting in a world defined by milliseconds and Hanyu is fighting in a fine-edged battle of ⅛ of a revolution at the moment.

Y: That’s right. I’m working with the really narrow gap of the final ⅛ of a revolution for the quadruple Axel. The world of milliseconds that you mentioned is probably the same for me. Questions of how long I should be in the air comes down to milliseconds, as does the question of how much I rotate. There’s also probably a question of how many milliseconds I should speed up my rotation, so I think we’re doing similar things. 

Are you doing anything now for the purposes of your goal? 

Y: Last year before the Japanese National Championships, I was practising the Axel together with muscle training. I’m very slender, didn’t have much muscle, my physique was weak and I really felt I wasn’t someone who had stable jumps. But when you put it that way, it’s because of all this that my jumps are what they are and I told myself this is who I am. However while I was practising the 4A, I thought I couldn’t jump it using the same way I’ve done until now. So when I thought about what I hadn’t done until this point, it was strength/muscle training. And then…the result of trying that was that I became unable to jump.

R: Because you were too heavy?

Y: Of course I got heavier, but it was probably because I lost the balance [of my physique]. So the injuries grew numerous. Ultimately after this, I realised I couldn’t make use of it. You could say it hindered my skating, or that I felt like I had only gained muscle that wasn’t necessary for skating. If I do things like running, it normally hurts my muscles. So I probably don’t have any of the muscles needed for that activity. For something like swimming, in the past, I used to be totally unable to change my breath.

R: Like you’d have to stop in the middle, that sort of thing?

Y: Yes, exactly. To the extent it’s like ‘how many tens of minutes will it take to swim 25m?’ I think it’s probably because I didn’t have any of the muscles needed for that either. So even if I build up those muscles on land, I think I can’t use them on the ice. Right now, in contrast, I’m going back to square one and doing only the things necessary to the foundations of jumping an Axel on the ice. After all, if you want to improve, you have to return to the foundations. At this difficult level and in doing these difficult skills, I’m trying to incorporate all these really fine, high-level details. I think in swimming terms, it may be like the feeling of holding a kickboard and only doing butterfly kicks. I’m recalling one by one, the things all my coaches have said until now, even the things I learned as a tiny child in Sendai. So I’m thinking about how this practice had this particular meaning and so on, and then making judgments like ‘oh in that case, this type of practice is better for me to do right now’ or, conversely, that I have a solid foundation in this so I don’t need to do it. If I practised for countless hours like I did back then, my body would break down so I’ve been upping my efficiency and carefully choosing the foundational training to do. 

R: I currently have the problem of starting slowly. My time when I’m around 15m away from the starting line, when compared to the top swimmers in the country, is about 0.4s slower. I compared 0.4s to the world record [time] earlier but that’s around half the body length behind. Before my illness, even if I was about 1-2 heads [behind], I’d be fine even if I didn’t give it everything. But there have been times where I’ve won on the touch even if I was behind by about half a body length at the start so in terms of that, I knew that [my swimming speed] was faster than everyone else. However, my body weight hasn’t returned yet, and I’m doing a lot of muscle training to try and regain the muscle I had lost that would give me that weight. I think the gap of 0.4s, which happens from the moment I dive in, is because of my body weight. When I think about how I think I can beat the crème de la crème if I can start with everyone, I think that it does come down to needing to increase my physical weight after all. I think I have to be more successful with my movements in the water and dolphin kick. I learn from watching top athletes really carefully, things like how supple their movements are in the water and what tempo they do their dolphin kicks with. I’m a person who is at the very bottom but will rise up again no matter the low point, so while watching various people and learning and with the feeling that I will get faster from here on out, I’ll take on this challenge and go forward.

Y: Listening to our conversation, I really understand what you want to do at these Olympics. You want to win.

R: Yes I do.

Y: That’s number one, I think. And then also, I think it’s incredibly painful to be unable to do what you used to be able to do, and to be unable to win against competitors you beat [in the past]. In regards to that, you also have to properly do what you have to with those emotions inside, don’t you.

R: Yes

Y: I think there is a part somewhere deep within your heart that feels that restlessness. I think maybe it might help if you can find even a little bit of space or place or time to let it out. When I want to cry, I really just cry freely.

R: Does Hanyu-san also cry? When it all just builds up, I cry a lot. 

Y: I cry by myself. The other day, I was in the bath and the tears came out just like that. 

R: You won’t cry in front of everyone so you do that instead right.

Y: I can’t, indeed. Because I don’t think those are things everyone needs to witness or know. The feelings I hold and the things I’ve done until now… after all, no matter whose life you compare it to, there absolutely won’t be anyone who has experienced the same thing as you. I think Ikee-san is the same. Of course, there are people who have also suffered similar illnesses and there may be good friends who can approach a sort of understanding, but only you can feel what you feel and cry like ‘wah-’, knowing what only you know. 

Well then, after the Tokyo Olympics, Hanyu will participate in the following Winter Olympic season

Y: It’s coming isn’t it. It’s fast. From here on out, I’ll do what I need to properly. I can see clearly what I want to do and what I should do right now. Of course, even if this may not be the quickest path, I’ll follow it and maybe the true path will become visible during the journey, or this may in reality be the true path. That’s something that no one knows after all. It’s just that I will single-mindedly do what I need to do right now. Even if I do happen to become one of the athletes selected for this Winter Olympics, that will remain the same. Regardless of the current state of the world, if I just proceed…well, it may be impossible to push on. There will be some times where I’ll have to do unnecessary or excessive things. The things I had announced as my goals, the gold medal, medals, world records, all I can do [at the moment] is aim for those and train. The world is changing hour by hour, so because of that, I think my life and my thoughts are being really influenced [by that]. There is the possibility that upcoming competitions may be cancelled, or I may become unable to train, but the things I’m working hard towards and aiming for have generally not changed. So when I say the number one thing I need to do right now, I think it means working hard while thinking everyday about what I can do towards those goals. 

R: I have something I want to ask. I think Hanyu-senshu is probably on a different level to other athletes and your name is known around the world, so I’m simply curious about whether you can walk around outside and such [freely]. Can you walk around and go shopping?

Y: Ikee-san as well, can you walk around freely outside?

R: I can do it really freely.

Y: Oh really? I’m often told by people around me that ‘even if he puts on a cap and mask, he’s going to get recognised’.

R: Indeed. 

Y: But I would’ve thought Ikee-san was the same.

R: I wonder about that. My shoulders are wider than most people and I’m also tall, so I think I’m a little different from other women. Like people probably think ‘huh?’ Even if I’m in a mask and cap. 

Y: I think everyone would probably know.

R: They’ll know won’t they (laughs)

Y: I generally don’t go out as a matter of habit. I don’t really like going shopping and I like playing games at home the most. 

R: Oh really? I’m an outdoorsy type so it’s tough for me when I can’t go out. I learnt something amazing the other day. It’s about when I gave my opinion about the messages I received on my own SNS. There were various reasons why I sent it out. There were an enormous number of opinions regarding the Olympics*. Of course, there’s not much we can do about it now. At the time, when I consulted with people close to me, they told me that the number of people supporting me were absolutely greater, which made me feel a lot better. I actually reflected on the opposite – that I had been thinking too much about unnecessary things. It would’ve been fine to just work hard for those supporting me so why was I so anxious to the extent that I felt I had to post something?  There was an opportunity for me to realise that, instead of fixating about why I ought to go, amongst all those who didn’t hold good feelings towards the Olympics, instead I ought to just focus on being just as I am.  

Y: We receive the support of a lot of people and so because of that, receive a lot of power. Whenever I do anything, I go about it thinking that I’m happy to do so. Just from that, I think there’s meaning to our existence. Let’s both work hard.

R: Yes! 

*T/N: From context, she’s likely referring to this set of tweets in which she addresses people asking her in direct messages on SNS to refuse to attend the Tokyo Olympics or speak out in protest

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We are the Axel with Wings translation team, made up of fans of Yuzuru Hanyu. We hope to share videos of him and Japanese figure skating content with more people around the world. We aim to do our best to accurately capture the spirit of what's said. Hope you enjoy our videos and other contents.

2 thoughts on “[ENG TRANSLATION] Yuzuru Hanyu x Rikako Ikee – Special Talk: ‘Simply, in order to win’ – 210715”

  1. Thank you so much for translating this! I’ve been looking forward to your translation as all the other translation I’ve seen didn’t make sense around the sentence where Hanyu-senshu was talking about swimming 25m in 10 minutes. Now I finally understand what he’s talking about!


  2. Thank you very much for your hard work. I am full of emotion after reading the thoughts of two rare young people, excellent athletes. I wish them good health and success.
    As one of the fanyus, let Yuzu fulfill all his dreams in this Olympic season.


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