Winter sports: Japan's Olympic speed skating champion Kodaira to retire

Nao Kodaira won Olympic gold in the women's 500m in Pyeongchang four years ago, as well as a silver in the 1,000m. PHOTO: NAO.KODAIRA/INSTAGRAM

(REUTERS) - Japan's former Olympic speed skating champion Nao Kodaira will retire from the sport in October following a final race in her hometown of Nagano, the long track speed skater said on Tuesday (April 12).

The 35-year-old won Olympic gold in the women's 500m in Pyeongchang four years ago, as well as a silver in the 1,000m.

She also won a silver in the team pursuit event in Vancouver 2010, alongside Masako Hozumi and Maki Tabata.

Kodaira had a disappointing outing at the Beijing Winter Games in February, finishing 17th in the 500m and 10th in the 1,000m.

"I'm nervous about what I'm about to say," Kodaira told a news conference.

"I... will run the last race of my career this October at the national single distances championships.

"When I thought about how long life is, I didn't want it to be only about speed skating. I felt that now was around the right time.

"There are several reasons but I wanted to race one last time while I still can physically. I wanted the last race to be at home in (the Shinshu region)."

Kodaira won 500m gold at the World Single Distance Championships in 2017 and 2020.

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