Japan's Kaori Sakamoto said she was "disappointed" despite defending her women's title at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships ©Getty Images

Japan's Kaori Sakamoto defended her women's singles title at her home International Skating Union (ISU) World Figure Skating Championships in Saitama.

The Olympic bronze medallist held a lead of 5.62 points from Wednesday's (March 22) short programme, and began the free skating with a routine to Elastic Heart by Sia at the Saitama Super Arena.

Despite a mistake attempting a triple flip, Sakamoto scored 145.37 points in the free skating to finish on 224.61.

That ensured she finished clear of South Korea's Lee Hae-in, who notched a personal best of 147.32 in the second half of the competition but had to settle for silver with 220.94.

Loena Hendrickx of Belgium climbed from fifth into third with a 138.48 routine, putting her on 210.42.

Isabeau Levito of the United States was fourth with 207.65 overall, while Japan's Grand Prix Final winner Mai Mihara slipped off the podium to fifth after scoring 132.24 in the free skating for a total of 205.70.

Mihara's coach later said she was skating on an injured leg.

Belgium's Loena Hendrickx climbed from fifth on to the podium in the women's free skating ©Getty Images
Belgium's Loena Hendrickx climbed from fifth on to the podium in the women's free skating ©Getty Images

Sakamoto was pleased to defend her title, but admitted there was frustration at her performance in the free skating.

"I was disappointed because I made the same mistake as I did four years ago [at the ISU World Championships 2019 in Saitama]," she said.

"However, I was able to recover from that and so I think I did grow from last time.

"Last season I won Olympic bronze and the World Championship and there was huge pressure, this was the biggest challenge for me this season.

"At first I didn’t handle it so well, and there were many disappointments at the beginning of the season, but I was able to overcome that at the Japanese Nationals.

"I wanted to achieve the back-to-back world titles by being super happy, but I feel a little regret and disappointed.

"The moment I popped the flip, I thought 'I need to do the triple toe'.

"I can’t make a mistake from here anymore.

"Instantly I told myself to forget about that mistake and refocused."

The ice dance began today with the rhythm dance, and Four Continents Championships winners Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the United States have an overnight lead with a personal best 91.94 from their routine.

Italy's European champions Charlène Guignard and Marco Fabbri are second on 88.21, and Canada's Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier sit third with 87.34.

A personal best from Britain's Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson has them fourth on 86.56.

The ISU World Figure Skating Championships are set to conclude tomorrow with the men's free skating and free dance in the ice dance.