May 26, 2018
Moscow- A three-month-old female Akita puppy was presented to Russian figure skater Alina Zagitova on Saturday.
At a ceremony in Moscow, the 16-year-old gold medal winner in women's figure staking singles at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea said she is grateful for the fabulous gift from the Akita dog preservation society in the northeastern Japan prefecture of Akita.
She named the puppy "Masaru," meaning "outperform," although it is a male name in Japan.
Zagitova said in a speech that she was eagerly waiting for this moment and will keep loving her. At the end of the speech, she said "Arigato gozaimasu (Thank you very much)" in Japanese. Then she held Masaru.
Takashi Endo, a Japanese lawmaker and head of the Akita preservation society, said the Akita, originating from the prefecture, is expected to become a symbol of friendship between Japan and Russia and help deepen the bilateral relationship.
The ceremony was also attended by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is here for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Zagitova fell in love with the Akita after seeing a picture of one in a magazine when she was staying in the central Japan city of Niigata for training ahead of the Pyeongchang Games and told her mother that she wanted to have the dog.
Knowing her wish through media reports, the Akita dog society decided to give her the puppy. Jiji Press
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