A Japanese sporting hero told yesterday how he has stepped out of the limelight to learn English in the UK.

Back home, judo star Kosei Inoue, 30, is a household name. The three-times world champion and Olympic gold medal winner said it is only his fellow countrymen who recognise him when he is out and about in Edinburgh.

Having recently retired from competition, he has moved to the city to brush up his language skills as he prepares to become an ambassador for the sport.

Inoue said of the tourists who spot him: "Sometimes they'll walk past me, then walk back to check."

Inoue added: "I really appreciate my fame in Japan and the support from people. Not being recognised here doesn't bother me. My objectives are to learn English and strive to better myself.

"I am trying to learn not only English but also a variety of things during my limited stay here, so that I can take them back to Japan with me."

Inoue is spending six months in the Scottish capital under the wing of George Kerr, president of the British Judo Association.

A student of the Basil Paterson College in the city, he also attends training sessions at Judo Scotland's headquarters in Ratho with some of the UK's top judo competitors.

He will later enrol at the University of Bath.

Mr Kerr said: "British judo can learn a lot from Kosei. He's a great champion and so modest. He's a technician. A lot of judo players are very strong.

"Kosei's got the strength, but he's also technically beautiful, poetry in motion. He's lovely to watch, so supple, so fast and dynamic."

National coach Billy Cusack says: "It's a fantastic honour to have someone of this sort of calibre visiting us.

"He's a fantastic example of how to behave as an athlete and a champion."