Updated: Wednesday, 05 February 2014 02:04 | By Agence France-Presse

Gold medal hope Hanyu relishing Sochi challenge

Japanese teenager Yuzuru Hanyu warned Tuesday that he won't be intimidated by his more experienced rivals as he bids for his country's first men's Olympic figure skating gold in Sochi.


Gold medal hope Hanyu relishing Sochi challenge

Japanese skater Yuzuru Hanyu performs during the gala exhibition in the ISU figure skating Grand Prix Final in Fukuoka, western Japan, on December 8, 2013 - by Toru Yamanaka

Daisuke Takahashi won Japan's first men's Olympic medal with his bronze in Vancouver four years ago before going on to become the first Asian man to take the world title the following month.

And Hanyu could go one better on February 13 and 14 in the Iceberg Skating Palace.

"I'm approaching this like any other competition," said the 19-year-old. 

"I'm not doing anything special just because it's the Olympics.

"I feel really good about myself. I've got no worries. Right now, I know what to do, when to get the most out of myself so it's all good."

Hanyu won his first Grand Prix final title this season ahead of three-time world champion Patrick Chan before going on to defend his national title.

It is the first Olympics for the skater from Sendai, who won the world junior title in 2010, but had feared for his future in the sport as he was housed in an evacuation shelter following the devastating earthquake in his hometown in March 2011.

Under the guidance of Olympic medallists Brian Orser and Tracy Wilson he has now risen to the number one ranked skater in the world.

"It's all mental. If I can control myself mentally, I should be able to perform to the best of my ability," said Hanyu, who could also compete in the team competition starting on Thursday.

"I haven't let up at all mentally and physically, I've managed myself better than last season or the season before," Hanyu continued.

"I'm nervous for sure. But you're supposed to be nervous for something like this, and that's where the challenge lies -- in dealing with your nerves. 

"I don't know what the Olympics is like, but I don't have any specific targets in sight. My goal is -- and should be -- just to do everything I can whenever I can." 

Chan admitted earlier Tuesday that he was he wary of Hanyu and the Japanese contingent which also includes Takahashi and Tatsuki Machida.

"It's like the constant battle between positive and negative thoughts because of the Grand Prix final," said Chan.

"The key part is focusing on myself. That's what I've been working on the last two three weeks. Not busying myself thinking whether I was training as well as the others or are my quads better than Yuzuru's or Daisuke's or whoever."

Machida, also competing in his first Olympics, tested the ice at the Iceberg Skating Palace where he placed sixth in last year's Grand Prix final.

"I'm impressed, it looks entirely different. In just a year, they've managed to turn it into a theme park. After it's all over, I'm definitely going for a ride on the rollercoaster," said this season's Cup of Russia and Skate America winner.

"I've basically been locked in an airplane for the past two days so I was itching to get out there. It felt good."

"I'm not in great physical condition at the moment, but I've got time to pick it up," he said.  

"Compared to how it was for the Grand Prix final, the ice felt much better."

He added: "This could be the first and last Olympics for me, so I want to leave everything out there with no regrets."

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