Mao Asada has confirmed her retirement from figure skating ©Getty Images

Three-time World Figure Skating Championships gold medallist Mao Asada of Japan has confirmed her retirement from the sport.

The 26-year-old suffered a disappointing 12th place finish in Japan's National Championships in December.

The Vancouver 2010 Olympic silver medallist previously took a one year break after winning her third world title in March 2014, one month after a sixth place finish at Sochi 2014.

She cited a lack of motivation as the reason behind making the "huge decision".

"After last year's Japan nationals, all the goals that had kept me going disappeared, along with my will to compete," she wrote on a blog.

"This was a huge decision for me, but I regard it as only one stage of my life and will find new dreams and goals going forward," she said.

Mao Asada won three World Championship titles and an Olympic silver medal ©Getty Images
Mao Asada won three World Championship titles and an Olympic silver medal ©Getty Images

Asada's first world title arrived in 2008 in Gothenburg in Sweden.

She won her second in Turin in Italy two years later before completing her haul on home soil with a third gold medal in Saitama in 2014.

In her illustrious career she also won three Four Continents Championships gold medals and four International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix final titles.

She is the only female figure skater who has landed three triple axel jumps in a single competition, which she achieved at Vancouver 2010.

Asada also held the world record in the women's short programme before it was broken by Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia in the 2016-17 Grand Prix final.

The Japanese skater scored 78.66 points when winning the World Championships title in 2014, before Medvedeva surpassed it with her total of 79.21.