Japan claimed a third medal at the Vancouver Winter Olympics on Thursday thanks to Daisuke Takahashi’s third-place finish in men’s figure skating. Despite falling early in his free routine, the 23-year-old university student held on to take the bronze, behind reigning world champion Evan Lysacek of the United States and defending Olympic champion Yevgeny Plushenko of Russia.
Lysacek, 24, scored 167.37 points for the free skate and 257.67 overall to finish just 1.31 points ahead of three-time world champion Plushenko. The 27-year-old Russian had led the field after Tuesday’s short programme, but scored slightly lower than Lysacek technically with 165.51 for the free skate and 256.36 overall.
Takahashi fought back after his fall to complete his routine to the soundtrack of Nino Rota's “La Strada” without further mishap, scoring 247.23 overall.
The four-time Japanese champion was delighted at his bronze after returning following injury last season.
"I am really happy right now," he said, according to the Games’ official website, www.vancouver2010.com
. "When I knew I had won a bronze medal I was so emotional. I was in tears. I'm usually not like this.
"There were parts of my programme that weren't perfect, including the quad. There were some other errors, too. But to finish where I am in the Olympic Games feels so good.
"I was injured a year ago and couldn't skate. I never thought that I would recover well enough to be back here on the Olympic stage."
Japan now has three medals in Vancouver – a silver in speed skating and bronze medals in speed skating and figure skating. In Turin four years ago, Japan claimed just one medal – but it was gold in colour from Shizuka Arakawa in women’s figure skating.