02/16/2018, 13.59

After an injury and many prayers, Yuzuru Hanyu leads men’s single

In November he suffered an ankle injury. Thousands of fans prayed for him. In 2011 he prayed at a Kobe shrine, hoping to become "the shining light of Tohoku”, a region devastated by a quake.

Kobe (AsiaNews/Agencies) – After three months away from competitions, Yuzuru Hanyu is back, taking the lead in the men’s single figure skating after the short programme.

Hanyu had been sidelined in November after injuring his ankle, with many fearing that he might underperform or skip the Games.  Instead, today the figure skater dispelled any doubts, finishing at the top in the men’s short programme (video).

The 23-yer-old, who won Olympic gold in Sochi, is now looking for a repeat in Pyeongchang. If he did win, he would be the first figure skater to win the Olympic gold medal twice in a row in 66 years.

In recent days, his supporters have filled Shinto temples with ema (wooden prayer tablets) dedicated to him.

In Kobe’s Yuzuruhajinja shrine, about 70 per cent of the 2,500 ema (pictures 2 and 3) contain prayers and best wishes for the figure skater's Olympic adventure and health, some with his image.

The temple is dear to his admirers since Hanyu himself went there to pray after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

On that occasion, Hanyu offered an ema on which he wrote, “I want to become the best in the world as well as to become the shining light of Tohoku,” the region devastated by the quake.

Since his victory in Sochi, the number of visitors to the temple has been steadily increasing.

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