Mao Asada said Wednesday she has no regrets over her decision to retire from figure skating competition and expressed her intention to continue involvement in the sport.
"After the (2014) Sochi Olympics, I took a break but came back because I thought I can still do it. I took up the challenge and used up all my feelings, physical strength and energy so I have no regrets," Asada told a news conference in Tokyo, two days after announcing her retirement on her blog.
"I would like to take part in activities so that I can give something back to figure skating in whatever way possible," the 26-year-old Vancouver Olympic silver medalist and three-time world champion said without specifying what she might pursue in the future.
The darling of Japanese figure skating said she made the decision to retire in February, a month after finishing a personal-low 12th at the national championships and feeling at the time that it was "all over" for her.
"There have been many mountains during my long career. I have been able to overcome them thanks to all the support I have received," she said in a room packed with 430 reporters and 100 cameras.
Asada said that for her, figure skating, which she began at the age of 5, is "in one word my life."
One of a handful of female skaters who landed a triple axel in competition, the Nagoya native said the jump was "her strength" but on the other hand it was also something that "troubled me a lot."
Looking back on her career, she said her free skate at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games was probably the most memorable among her performances.
After a dismal short program that put her in 16th place, Asada mesmerized the world with a superb free program that boosted her to sixth.
She then took the 2014-2015 season off and made a comeback the following winter.
"After I came back, I was able to make a good start, but as I went about my training and appeared in competitions, I started wondering whether I can keep up because the level of skating now is so great and there were often times I felt things were tougher than before I took my break," she said.
One thing that made her think twice about retiring was that she had declared after her comeback that she will aim to take part in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics next February and it was not easy for her to go back on her word.
Her policy of keeping her word made her take some time before announcing her retirement but she said she can now hang up her skates with a "very cheerful feeling."
Asada was all smiles throughout the nearly hourlong press conference, except when she needed to turn her back to the journalists twice to fight back tears and keep her composure while expressing words of appreciation at the end of the event.
Although she will no longer compete, she is scheduled to appear in The Ice, a figure skating show scheduled in late July in Osaka and early August in her hometown Nagoya.
"I want to remember all the experiences I've had in my skating career and find a new aim and keep going forward smiling," she said.