Double Olympic figure skating champion Yuzuru Hanyu said Wednesday that he has not “even reached the starting line” as he races to recover from injury in time for February’s Beijing Games.
The 26-year-old Japanese star will miss a tournament in Russia next week, having also pulled out of his home NHK Trophy last week because of a ligament injury to his right ankle.
It comes with the Beijing Olympics less than 80 days away and will raise fresh doubts that he will be fit enough to win a third straight gold medal.
“I haven’t even reached the starting line yet, but I’m going to steadily move forward,” Hanyu, who would be one of the main attractions in the Chinese capital, said of his injury.
“It hurts depending on how I move, but I have begun to feel less pain in my daily life,” he said in a statement released by the Japan Skating Federation.
Neither Hanyu nor the federation said when he plans to compete again.
He had previously vowed to “get back on the ice quickly”.
Hanyu’s defence of his Olympic title in Pyeongchang in 2018 was almost scuppered by a ligament injury to the same ankle, suffered in a training accident just months before those Games began.
He was out of action for three months leading up to the competition and said after winning the Olympic title for a second time that he had never fully healed.
At Pyeongchang, Hanyu became the first man to clinch back-to-back Olympic figure-skating titles in more than six decades.