Alina Zagitova wants to give her new Akita Inu a name that means “victory,” but there’s one thing she might be overlooking.

Although Japan captured both the gold and silver medals in men’s figure skating at the PyeongChang Olympics, no Japanese women medaled in the event. There was still plenty of love for the country present on the women’s podium, though.

Not only did Russia’s Evgenia Medvedeva, a noted Sailor Moon fan, take home the silver medal in the ladies’ singles, her compatriot Alina Zagitova, the gold medalist, also has a soft spot for certain aspects of Japanese culture. As part of her training, Zagitova has spent time in Japan, where she became enamored with the Akita Inu breed of dog after seeing photos of them in magazines and a film about the life of Hachiko, the Akita Inu that became a famous symbol of loyalty with a statue in its honor outside of Shibuya Station in Tokyo.

▼ An Akita Inu

Following her gold medal-winning performance, the 15-year-old Zagitova told reporters that she’s wanted to have an Akita Inu of her own for some time, and that her mom told her she’d “think about getting one” for the family if her daughter did well at the Olympics. Since Zagitova did better than anyone else in the world, the way was paved for an Akita Inu to join her household, and when Japan’s Akita Inu Preservation Society animal welfare society heard about the skater’s canine ambition, they offered to send Zagitova an Akita Inu, an offer her family has accepted.

While the paperwork is still being processed, the society has picked out a pooch for Zagitova, and the skater has already picked out a name for her soon-to-be pet. In speaking with Russian reporters about the gift, Zagitova said “I’ve decided to name her Masaru. She’s a girl. In Japanese, ‘Masaru’ means ‘victory.’”

Zagitova is correct in that “Masaru,” when written with the kanji 勝, does indeed mean “victory,” which is a fitting name for the animal companion of a world champion. However, many would say it’s a less-fitting name for a female Akita Inu, since Masaru is traditionally a male name. What’s more, though Japanese has a handful of unisex names, Masaru is a decidedly old-school, masculine moniker, sort of like, say, “Harold” in English.

In her defense, Zagitova is an athlete, not a linguist, and her desire to give her new dog a name that represents both its country of origin and the circumstances upon which the animal has come into her life is quite sweet. If, though, she’d rather give her Akita Inu a Japanese woman’s name, Katsumi, written 勝美 and meaning “victory and beauty,” would be an elegant choice, especially since it’s the given name of Japanese volleyball player Katsumi Matsumura, who competed in the 1964 Olympics where she, just like Zagitova, won a gold medal.

Sources: Yahoo! News Japan/FNN via Hachima Kiko, Huffington Post Japan
Top image: Wikipedia/Luu
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