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Monday, 2nd April 2012
In Japan Sports News,

Veteran figure skater wins first world medal

At the age of 27, Akiko Suzuki is something of a veteran figure skater but has only just picked up her first world medal.

Performing at the World Figure Skating Championships in Nice, Suzuki rescued what would have been an otherwise disappointing performance for the Japanese women's team, who had claimed four of the last five titles before the Nice event, AFP reported.

Picking up bronze with her routine to "Die Fledermaus", Suzuki surged up the stnadings from her position in fifth place to claim a spot on the podium, while the twice-crowned world champion Mao Asada slid down to sixth place.

Teenage prodigy Kanako Murakami had started well and initially sat in second but had slumped to fifth by the close.

It was a fitting result for Suzuki, whose skating has been blighted by her battle with anorexia.

Her competitive career almost came to an end at the age of 16, before she was forced to miss the entire season in 2004-2004 through ill health.

Her first World Championship appearance came in 2010 and she finished 11th, the same year that she came eighth in the Vancouver Games.

"I think missing last year's world team gave a lot of motivation to train harder. This is my first world medal and I am 27 years old," she told the news agency.

"So after one year I have my first medal. This is the first present I got after turning 27," she added.

Her focus now is to perform well next season and gain a place in the Japanese team for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia.

The 2014 Games are the 22nd in the history of the Winter Olympics and will take place between February 7th and February 23rd. The former Soviet Union last hosted the Games in Moscow in 1980.

Written by Susan Ballion