Japan's double world champion Shoma Uno retires from figure skating. GETTY IMAGES

Japan's two-time figure skating world champion Shoma Uno has retired from the sport. The 26-year-old, who won three medals at two Winter Olympic Games, said on his Instagram on Thursday he was "grateful to have had a wonderful competitive career".

In his bid for a hat-trick of world titles in Montreal in March, Uno won the short program but a disappointing free skate saw him finish out of the medals in fourth place. Gold went to American teenager Ilia Malinin ahead of Uno's younger compatriot Yuma Kagiyama.

"I have taken the decision to retire from skating," Uno wrote in Japanese on his Instagram account. "After starting at the age of five, I was able to continue for 21 years. I am grateful to have had a wonderful competitive career."

He also announced that he would be holding a press conference on 14 May to discuss his retirement and future plans.

Uno took silver behind reigning Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu at the 2017 World Championships and was unable to dethrone his teammate at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics. Having struggled in the year after PyeongChang, he started to work with former Swiss skater Stephane Lambiel who soon became his full-time coach.

When competition resumed after the pandemic, Nathan Chen continued the dominance he had assumed after winning his first world title in 2018. At the Beijing 2022 Games, Uno took bronze behind Chen and Kagiyama with Hanyu finishing out of the medals in his last competition. Uno also won silver in the team event.

Four Continents 2017 (L-R): Runner-up Yuzuru Hanyu, winner Nathan Chen, third-placed Shoma Uno. GETTY IMAGES
Four Continents 2017 (L-R): Runner-up Yuzuru Hanyu, winner Nathan Chen, third-placed Shoma Uno. GETTY IMAGES

When Chen took a break to concentrate on his studies at Yale University, Uno finally enjoyed a period at the top starting with his first world title in Montpellier in March 2022.

The Nagoya native won seven consecutive competitions and successfully defended his world crown on home ice in Saitama. However, the 2023-24 season saw him suffer Grand Prix defeats to France's Adam Siao Him Fa at the Cup of China and Kagiyama at the NHK Cup. He had to settle for second again in December's Grand Prix Final in Turin with Malinin coming out on top.

A sixth Japanese national title followed later that month but, after his Montreal Worlds disappointment, he said, "In my heart, I didn't have a strong feeling that I wanted to win. Maybe because of my age, or maybe because the presence of Nathan and Yuzuru had been very important to me." He added that he found it "very difficult to maintain the spirit of a true competitor" after Chen and Hanyu stepped away.