Figure skating: Sendai salutes hometown hero Yuzuru Hanyu

Yuzuru Hanyu, the first back-to-back men's Olympic figure skating champion in 66 years, received a hero's welcome in his hometown of Sendai on Sunday. The 23-year-old sealed the double at February's Pyeongchang Olympics, when he overcame an injury to ligaments in his right ankle he suffered after falling during practice for November's NHK Trophy. Hanyu's recovery from injury was slower than expected, leading to speculation over whether he would be fit to defend his title. (Photo taken from a Kyodo helicopter) "It's so good to be back in Sendai after having won at consecutive Olympics," Hanyu said at the start of the parade. "I'd like to thank everyone of you for giving me great support. Without it, I wouldn't have been able to win this gold medal. I'll never forget this amazing feeling and remember this scene forever." (Pool photo) In anticipation of the local hero's arrival, parade organizers planned to have 80,000 commemorative T-shirts put on sale. Of those, an estimated 44,000 shirts were sold a week in advance. Hotel rooms in Sendai over the weekend were also a hot item. The Library Hotel Higashi-Nibancho, which sits beside the parade route, said said all 230 of its rooms had been booked. "It seems most of the reservations were from women who requested rooms overlooking the route," a hotel spokesperson said. According to parade organizers, about 108,000 spectators turned out for Hanyu's parade, compared with around 92,000 following the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Among the spectators, Hagiko Aizawa, 72, and Yuno Endo, 17, saw their houses completely destroyed in the 2011 earthquake-tsunami disaster in northeastern Japan. Aizawa, who came to the parade with her husband, said, "I've never seen this many people in Sendai. It's encouraging." Hanyu's efforts "have brought hope to those affected, both adults and children," Endo said. More on Hanyu: Figure skating: Hanyu returns to ice, plans to be ready for new season Olympics: Hanyu says "I bet my life" for Pyeongchang gold Hanyu, Ledecka and more: popular stories from the Pyeongchang Olympics

14 hours ago | KYODO NEWS