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Figure skating: Japan star Asada set retire after Sochi

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Japanese figure skating star Mao Asada, the 2008 and 2010 world champion, said Sunday she would retire from competition after next year's Sochi Winter Olympics.

"At the moment, that is what I intend to do," Asada, the runner-up to South Korea's Kim Yu-Na in their Olympic debut at the 2010 Vancouver Games, told reporters when asked about her possible retirement after Sochi.

"I began to think about it little by little at the start of this year," the 22-year-old said as she prepared for an exhibition after the season-closing World Team Trophy competition in Tokyo.

"It is not because of my physical strength but I have considered many things."

Asada finished a disappointing fifth in the women's singles at the team event.

"I want to do my last and my best skating on the big stage in Sochi. I have less than a year to go and I think I can use such a short period of time to get ready and give all I have for the last time," she said.

"I have been focused only on skating up to now and I will have to think of what I should do afterwards."

Asada's arch rival Kim, also 22, announced last year that she would retire after the Sochi Games and seek to become a member of the International Olympic Committee.

At the world championships in London, Ontario, four weeks ago, Kim won her second world crown on her comeback to competition after a break of nearly two years. Asada finished third in the event.

Asada, the only woman who regularly attempts the demanding 3.5-revolution triple axel at world-class events, stunned the figure skating world when she won the 2005 Grand Prix Final at 15 years of age.

At the Vancouver Olympics, she became the first woman to land three triple axel jumps in a competition -- one in the short programme and two in the free skate.

In the past season, she has won her two Grand Prix events -- the Cup of China and the NHK Trophy -- and the Grand Prix Final without attempting the triple axel.

In February, she won the Four Continents title when she nailed the triple axel for the first time in two years.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130414/figure-skating-japan-star-asada-set-retire-after-sochi