“You did a good job and thank you,” Japanese long-track speed skater Nao Kodaira left a message to Lee Sang-hwa, 30, who declared retirement on Thursday. The two top skaters are not only archrivals but also true friends.
Nao Kodaira released the message to Lee via the Japan Skating Federation on Friday. The 33-year-old skater described Lee as her best companion who has come a long way with high aim. She believed that they could go farther with a higher goal before hearing Lee would retire, showing her regrets for Lee’s retirement, she wrote. Kodaira also expressed mixed feelings in the letter that she thanks Lee and wishes that they could join competition. She hoped that Lee would have some rest for a new pleasant chapter of her life.
Lee said in her retirement ceremony that she hopes that Kodaira will do as she has done so far and keep her own pace to stay on top. She added that she would visit Nagano to meet her.
Kodaira became the gold medalist defeating Lee in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games. While Lee shed tears on the ice after the final match was over, Kodaira approached with her arms around Lee. Holding each other in arms, they waved their hands to the stand. The scene was commended as the best moment showing the spirits and sportsmanship of the Olympic Games. Lee and Kodaira were awarded the Korea-Japan Friendship Award on April 7 by the PyeongChang Memorial Foundation.
Won-Joo Lee firstname.lastname@example.org