Tokyo - Russia's gold-medal-winning teenage skating sensation Alina Zagitova is finally set to realise her dream of owning an Akita, a breed of large Japanese dogs once presented as a gift from Japan to President Vladimir Putin.
Zagitova told her mother she wanted an Akita after spotting a photo of the dog while training in Japan for the Pyeongchang Olympics, according to the Russian figure skating federation.
"I told my mum I want a dog. My mum replied: 'Get a good result at the Olympics and we'll see'," Zagitova was quoted as saying in an interview with the federation.
Japanese officials said Friday they would do their best to make the 15-year-old's dream come true.
An official from the Akita dog preservation association told AFP: "We sent her a message that we are ready to donate one." The governor of the Akita region where the dog comes from, Norihisa Satake, has also said he would "do his best" to make her wish come true.
Until a live dog is delivered to Russia, Zagitova will have a stuffed dog toy to play with after a city in the Akita region sent her a range of doggy memorabilia with a letter congratulating her on the gold medal, local official Tsuyoshi Kudo told AFP.
"We are grateful that she made our city known to the world by hoping to have an Akita dog," he said.
Zagitova already told Japanese broadcaster TV Asahi in Moscow this week: "I want to find lots of time with the dog." "I had dogs before - Yorkshire terriers. They are good but small. And Akita dogs, you can walk with it, they are not afraid of anything. It will protect me," she said in her interview with the federation.
In 2012, Satake presented a female Akita to Russian President Vladimir Putin as an expression of gratitude for Moscow's support for the region reeling from the 2011 tsunami disaster.
The female dog appeared at a summit meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, but Russia has since turned down Japan's plan to give a male Akita in 2016 in its second attempt at dogged diplomacy.