Winter Olympics: Emotional Hanyu gives Japan first men's gold

Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu celebrates after the Men's Figure Skating Free Programme at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the Sochi Winter Olympics on Feb 14, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu celebrates after the Men's Figure Skating Free Programme at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the Sochi Winter Olympics on Feb 14, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

SOCHI, Russia (AFP) - An emotional Yuzuru Hanyu became the first Japanese man to win an Olympic figure skating gold on Friday with the teenager also claiming Japan's first title of the 2014 Winter Games.

The 19-year-old, the youngest Olympic men's champion in 66 years, fell twice during an error-strewn performance but took his first major title ahead of three-time world champion Patrick Chan after the free skating final.

Denis Ten moved up from ninth after the short programme to take a first Olympic figure skating bronze for Kazakhstan.

"Oh my God. The Olympics is so wild and unpredictable," gasped Hanyu on hearing of his success.

His challenge had looked over after he fell on a quadruple Salchow and a triple flip, but he landed a quadruple toeloop in his free skate to Nino Rota's Romeo And Juliet in front of a capacity crowd at the Iceberg Palace.

"This is history. It's a gift for my country," said Hanyu, who comes from Sendai which was hit by a devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

"A lot of people in Sendai city helped me to be here. There are just so many people who supported me and I'm really grateful to all of them.

"I'm the only gold medallist but I don't think I'm just spiritually by myself, I'm here because of all the people in Japan who supported me." He added: "It was such a difficult programme for me and I felt rough, physically. I'm just shocked. I'm so proud of this feat as a Japanese." Hanyu became the youngest winner of the Olympic men's title since American Dick Button in 1948 in an event tinged by controversy when double gold medallist Yevgeny Plushenko pulled out injured on Thursday and then retired.

Two-point deduction

Carrying a 3.93-point lead in from the short programme, in which he set a new world record score, Hanyu scored 178.64 for the free skate, despite a two-point deduction, for an overall total of 280.09.

Chan, 23, achieved 178.10 to take silver after touching the ice on his second quadruple jump and a triple Axel, he also stepped out of a double Axel in his performance to Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" and "Concerto Grosso" for an overall total of 275.62.

It was his second Olympic silver in Sochi after the team event.

"Of course it's a chance missed," said Chan, who became the latest Canadian to falter at the Olympics after Brian Orser, Kurt Browning and Elvis Stojko, who had all entered Games as favourites but failed to land gold.

"How many chances missed have we seen at the Olympic Games? We've seen many. Just because I missed that opportunity here today at these Olympics it doesn't define my career, it doesn't change the fact that I'm still one of the best figure skaters in the world." "We're all human ... makes mistakes. Unfortunately, I made one too many," said Chan.

World silver medallist Ten was the only one of the top seven skaters to give a clean performance.

'I hope people enjoyed it'

He scored 171.04 for his performance to The Young Lady And The Hooligan which included quadruple toeloop and seven triple jumps.

Ten, who had looked out of the running after a season hampered by injury and illness, scored 255.10 overall.

"This was definitely my season's best. I'm glad about all the jumps and I tried my best in my choreography. I hope people enjoyed it," he said.

It was a second straight Olympic title for Hanyu's coach Orser, a two-time silver medallist, who guided Kim Yu-Na to the women's gold in Vancouver in 2010.

But Hanyu's training partner with Orser in Toronto, world bronze medallist Javier Fernandez, dropped from third to fourth after finishing fifth in the free skate.

"I'm very happy for him (Hanyu). He works very hard every day, he deserves it," said two-time European champion Fernandez.

Daisuke Takahashi, the first Japanese man to medal at the Olympics with his bronze in Vancouver and a world title in 2010, finished sixth after errors in his "Beatles Medley".

"I poured my heart into it," said the 27-year-old competing in his third and final Olympics.

Hanyu's gold was just the second Olympic figure skating title for Japan after Shizuka Arakawa won the 2006 women's gold in Turin.

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