Speed skating: Three-time Olympian N. Takagi announces retirement

Nana Takagi holds a press conference announcing her retirement on April 5, 2022, in Tokyo. (Kyodo)

Nana Takagi, who with her younger sister Miho became the first pair of speed skating siblings to appear at three Olympic Winter Games, announced her retirement on Tuesday.

The 29-year-old captured two gold medals at the Pyeongchang Games in 2018, in the team pursuit and mass start. She suffered two falls at the Beijing Games in February, including one that cost Japan gold in the women’s team pursuit final.

“I’ve decided to end my career as an athlete,” Takagi said at a press conference in Tokyo.

“My sister helped me get this far. I was able to take the ice as Nana Takagi and not as Miho’s older sister in the end, and that (sense of personal fulfillment) is why I decided to retire,” she said.

Standing just 155 centimeters tall, Takagi was a skater with immense power packed into her small frame. She specialized in middle- and long-distance races and made her Olympic debut in Sochi in 2014.

In 2018 Takagi became the first female athlete from Japan to win two gold medals at a single Olympic Games.

The world record-holding Japanese team of the Takagi sisters and Ayano Sato placed second in a dramatic team pursuit final at the National Speed Skating Oval in Beijing on Feb. 15.

Japan had a slight lead entering the final turn, but Nana Takagi, who was at the back of the three-woman train, fell and slid into the wall. She crossed the finish line in tears more than 11 seconds after the final Canadian.

Four days later, Takagi crashed out in the semifinal of the mass start, falling on the same corner as in the team pursuit final.

Her sister Miho was the team captain for the Japanese delegation in Beijing. She competed in five speed skating events in Beijing and won four medals, including a gold in the 1,000 meters.

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