Maia Shibutani has returned to the gym for the first time since her cancerous tumor was removed in December — and the milestone in her recovery comes on the anniversary of another very important milestone for the Olympic figure skater.
“Two years ago today, @alexshibutani and I won our second Olympic medal in PyeongChang,” Shibutani wrote in a lengthy Instagram post on Thursday, tagging her older brother and skating partner Alex Shibutani.
“I can remember everything about that day,” the 25-year-old athlete continued. “I’ll always be so proud that rather than allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed, we had the performance of our dreams. There was an incredible amount of pressure and no room for errors, but we stayed present and had one of those magical Olympic moments.”
Maia and Alex, 28, are fondly known as the “Shib Sibs” and helped Team USA clinch the third-medal spot with their paired free dance at the 2018 Winter Olympics. The same year, the brother-sister duo won the bronze medal in ice dance.
In her Instagram post, Maia said that on her way to the gym, “it really hit me that I was working out for the first time in months on the anniversary of such an important and memorable day in my life.”
The Olympian admitted that she was “anxious” about working out again, and that it was “emotionally overwhelming to contrast the elation I felt two years ago at the Olympics with the uncertainty that I felt this morning.”
Two months after her surgery, Maia said she’s not in the physical shape she’s used to being in as an Olympic athlete, revealing that she was only four or five years old the last time she took an extended break from training.
“This morning, rather than being proud of the progress I’ve made with my health and embracing the special significance of today, I was comparing myself to where I was two years ago,” she wrote.
But Maia credits her “great support system” for encouraging her to move forward and “adjust my perspective” — and despite her anxiety to get back in the gym, said that her workout “was better than I expected.”
“I stopped judging myself and instead focused on embracing the moment,” she wrote. “Some days are tougher than others, but I’m learning and growing so much from the challenges of these past few months. Everything won’t change right away and I need to continue to be patient, but today was a special reminder to celebrate, love, and be kind to myself.”
“So proud of you,” Alex commented on the post.
“This wasn’t the news I was hoping for, but I am beyond thankful that it was detected early and that my surgery went well,” she said in an Instagram post at the time, sharing that “no further treatment is required at this time.”
In January, Maia shared that she had been going on walks and was “doing a little better.”