NICE, France–Akiko Suzuki gave herself the perfect birthday present–her first-ever medal at a world figure skating championships. Having turned 27 three days earlier, she knows she doesn’t have many chances left. “I believed that you can make progress from any age, and that’s what led to this medal,” Suzuki said after becoming the oldest world medalist in Japan figure skating history. “And I still believe I can get even better.”
Suzuki, who was fifth after the short program, leapfrogged young compatriots Mao Asada and Kanako Murakami to finish third behind Italy’s Carolina Kostner and Russian Alena Leonova. Suzuki, despite a minor muff on a jump in the second half, made up for it with speed and emotion to score the second-highest in the free skate behind Kostner.
While Suzuki would not comment on her prospects for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, it would seem the perfect place to close a career that has had more than its share of ups and downs. Suzuki struggled with an eating disorder early in her career, missing the entire 2003-04 season. It took several years to get back to a competitive level, but she did made Japan’s team for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, where she placed eighth. The 2010-11 season saw Suzuki… via http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/sports/T120402004267.htm