Nana Takagi (JPN) celebrates during the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Gangneung (KOR) @GettyImages
Nana Takagi (JPN) has decided to hang up her Speed Skating blades. The 29-year-old from Obihoro (JPN) became the first Japanese female athlete to win multiple titles at the Olympic Winter Games, when she claimed victory in both the Team Pursuit and Mass Start at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang (KOR). Nana’s younger sister and Beijing 2022 Olympic 1000m champion Miho Takagi announced to take a break from the sport " without setting a timeline" for a possible return to the ice.
Ayano Sato, Miho Takagi, Nana Takagi (JPN) celebrate during the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing (CHN) @GettyImages
Nana Takagi made her Olympic debut at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi (RUS), with Miho being absent after she had already competed as a 15-year-old at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver (CAN). In 2018 the sister competed at the Olympic Games together for the first time.
Team Pursuit engine
Miho Takagi, Ayano Sato, Nana Takagi (JPN) compete during the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing (CHN) @GettyImages
Nana and Miho were the main engine of the Japanese Team Pursuit squad, which also featured Ayano Sato (JPN) and Ayaka Kikuchi (JPN). After winning their first World title in 2015, the Japanese ladies dominated the event for five years, winning 3 gold medals, and 2 silvers at five World Championships, setting a ten race winning streak in the World Cup and breaking the world record four times between November 2017 and February 2020.
Bo-Reum Kim (KOR), Nana Takagi (JPN) and Irene Schouten (NED) celebrate during the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Gangneung (KOR) @GettyImages
While Miho also celebrated many individual World Cup and championships medals, Nana first topped the international podium in an individual event in 2018, when she surprisingly won the inaugural Olympic Mass Start race in PyeongChang.
Nana Takagi, Miho Takagi, Ayano Sato, (JPN) compete during the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing (CHN) @GettyImages
Four years later, Nana’s Olympic campaign ended in tears. Heading into the last 200m of the Team Pursuit final against Canada with a marginal lead, she crashed out in the final corner. Defending her Mass Start title, she again fell in the very same corner. Nana left the ice inconsolable, but she eventually went home having added an Olympic Team Pursuit silver to her two PyeongChang golds.
Nana Takagi (JPN), Brittany Bowe (USA), and Ayano Sato (JPN) celebrate during the 2021 ISU World Cup Speed Skating in Calgary (CAN) @ISU (International Skating Union)
Despite having won the 2018 Olympic Mass Start title, Nana never managed to come close to Miho’s list of individual honors, especially in the classical distances like the 1000m and the 1500m. Yet, in her final season, Nana, finally managed to take an individual World Cup medal in a classic distance, when she seized a 1500m silver behind Brittany Bowe (USA) in Calgary (CAN) last December.
"My sister helped me get this far, she said at her farewell press conference. ”I was able to take the ice as Nana Takagi and not as Miho Takagi's older sister in the end, and that (sense of personal fulfillment) is why I decided to retire."