Olympic champion Kodaira to retire

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Speed skater Nao Kodaira competes in the women’s 500-meter race at the Beijing Winter Olympics on Feb. 13.

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.

The 35-year-old won Olympic gold in the women’s 500 meters in Pyeongchang four years ago, as well as a silver in the 1,000 meters. 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 500 meters and 10th in the 1,000 meters.

“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 500 meters gold at the World Single Distance Championships in 2017 and 2020.