Olympics: Japan skate heroine Asada hits back at Tokyo 2020 chief

Japanese figure-skating star Mao Asada on Tuesday, Feb 25, 2014, hit back at sneering by the boss of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic committee over her disastrous performance on the ice in Sochi. -- PHOTO: AFP
Japanese figure-skating star Mao Asada on Tuesday, Feb 25, 2014, hit back at sneering by the boss of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic committee over her disastrous performance on the ice in Sochi. -- PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - Japanese figure-skating star Mao Asada on Tuesday hit back at sneering by the boss of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic committee over her disastrous performance on the ice in Sochi.

The 23-year-old returned to Tokyo from the Winter Games empty handed, despite having gone into the singles competition as a front runner.

Her short programme was a flop from the get-go, as Asada, one of Japan's most popular sporting figures, crashed to the ice on her initial jump and completely missed a compulsory part of the dance.

That drew accusations of her being an habitual choker from former prime minister Yoshiro Mori, who now heads the body charged with organising the 2020 summer Games.

Asada brushed aside the 76-year-old's scoffing. "I'm human. I happen to fail," she told a news conference when asked about Mori's remarks.

"I don't care at all now, but I'm afraid that perhaps Mr Mori is now slightly regretting making such remarks," a smiling Asada said.

Although he is not unique among senior Japanese politicians for a jaw-dropping inability to judge the public mood, Mori has a track record of going the extra mile with his gaffes.

A near-flawless performance in the free programme on the second night of competition was not enough to drag Asada into the medals, and she finished in sixth place.

The event was won by Russia's Adelina Sotnikova, who pushed defending champion Kim Yu Na, the South Korean favourite, into second spot.

Asada made no secret of her sadness over her performance in Sochi, and said she was considering overturning a plan to retire from international tournaments at the end of this season.

"I'm full of regrets over failing to bring medals back to Japan," she said, adding that her chances of continuing to perform next season is "50-50".

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