efe-epaTokyo

Two-time Olympic figure skating gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu on Monday received Japan's People's Honor Award, making him the youngest and the first figure skater to be given the honor.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, during a ceremony at his office, presented the award to 23-year-old Hanyu who is a celebrity in the Asian country thanks to his stellar sporting career.

During a press conference, government spokesperson Yoshihide Suga said thanks to Hanyu's hard work, he achieved a historic record by winning gold twice in a row at the Olympics and has given hope and courage to Japanese society.

The skater is training for upcoming competitions and will "make a great effort" to continue winning, Hanyu said when collecting the award wearing a traditional kimono, reported state broadcaster NHK.

Hanyu is the first male figure skater to win gold in two consecutive Olympic Games in the last six decades, after winning gold at South Korea's Pyeongchang Winter Games in February and in the 2014 Sochi Games in Russia.

A native of Sendai, he was one of the thousands of evacuees affected by the earthquake and tsunami that devastated that area of the country in 2011 and left more than 18,000 dead or missing.

The People's Honor Award has been awarded since 1977 to Japanese and foreign nationals for their achievements in sports, entertainment and culture.