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Mao Asada to take a year off from competitive figure skating, may come back after break

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TOKYO - Japanese figure skater Mao Asada will take a season off from competitive skating and says there is a 50 per cent chance she will return to the sport.

Speaking at a news conference Monday, Asada said she is mentally and physically tired and wants a chance to focus on other aspects of her life, including attending university.

"I worked very hard from Vancouver to Sochi," said Asada, who won silver at the Vancouver Winter Olympics. "Now I feel it's time to take a year off and rest. We'll see how I feel after a break. At this point it is 50-50."

Asada captured her third world title at the figure skating world championships in Saitama, Japan, in March, which followed a sixth-place finish at the Sochi Olympics.

The 23-year-old Asada went into Sochi carrying gold medal hopes, but finished a disappointing 16th in the short program before an inspirational free skate that vaulted her up the standings. Asada is the only female figure skater who has landed three triple axels in one competition.

While conceding there is a chance she may return to competition, Asada said she can't picture herself competing at the next Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2018.

Asada began figure skating at the age of five and made her senior debut in the 2005-06 season. She won her first world title in 2008. Her longtime rival, Yuna Kim of South Korea, retired after Sochi.

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