February 19, 2018 / 4:41 AM / a month ago

Japan PM congratulates gold medalists

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe congratulated figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu and speed skater Nao Kodaira on Monday for winning the country’s first two golds at the Pyeongchang Winter Games.

Speed Skating - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Women's 500m competition finals - Gangneung Oval - Gangneung, South Korea - February 18, 2018 - Nao Kodaira of Japan celebrates after winning a gold medal. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

“This weekend was indeed an exciting and emotional one,” Abe told reporters in Tokyo, the host city for the next Summer Games in 2020. “I hope to continue this excitement through to the Tokyo.”

Hanyu won the men’s singles on Saturday, overcoming an ankle injury to become the first man in 66 years to defend his Olympic title and give Japan its first Pyeongchang gold.

Japan erupted in joy, flooding social media with 1.1 million tweets using the hashtag #Hanyu-kun - an affectionate diminutive - within 90 minutes of his win.

Feb 16, 2018; Pyeongchang, South Korea; Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) celebrates winning gold in the men's figure skating free skate program during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games at Gangneung Ice Arena. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Abe also phoned Hanyu on Saturday to offer his personal congratulations.

“I was quite impressed by your concentration, capable of achieving your best under such pressure,” Abe told him during the phone call reported by TV Tokyo.

Kodaira followed Hanyu by setting an Olympic record of 36.94 seconds in the women’s 500m on Sunday.

She also became the first female speed skater from Japan to win an Olympic title in an individual event.

Reporting by Olivier Fabre, writing by Karishma Singh, editing by Darren Schuettler

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