Kodaira to begin post-competition life as lecturer at alma mater

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Nao Kodaira smiles during at a press conference on Thursday in Tokyo.

Recently retired speed skating star Nao Kodaira will begin the post-competition stage of her life as a specially appointed professor at her alma mater of Shinshu University, she announced Thursday at a press conference in Tokyo.

The 36-year-old Kodaira, who became Japan’s first-ever female Olympic champion in the sport with a victory in the 500 meters at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, said she will teach classes about career development and health science for freshmen starting in January next year.

“I’d like to concentrate on putting the classes together with the students, rather than focusing on what I’ll be teaching,” she said, showing her eagerness for the assignment.

Kodaira said that in addition to her work at the university, she will also be involved in interacting with children through skating and holding seminars at companies and schools.

“While this puts me in areas that are new to me, I want to continue to focus on two things that will not change — my desire to enjoy gaining knowledge and ‘to express the ‘one and only me,’” Kodaira emphasized.

Kodaira closed the competitive chapter of her career with a victory in the 500 meters at the All-Japan Single Distance Championships on Oct. 22 in Nagano.

“A few days have already passed but I still feel like I am dreaming,” she said. “So every morning I pinch my cheek just to make sure it actually happened. I was able to express myself completely.”

In addition to her gold, Kodaira also won a pair of silver medals in her four Olympic appearances. Looking back, she said: “It was there that I definitely grew as a person. My hope is that [the Olympics] remain a pure stage to brighten up the world and bring people together.”