Russian figure-skating legend wouldn’t take part in the Winter Olympics anymore, he announced on Thursday night,citing his terrible injury during warm-ups for the men’s short program competition he was scheduled to skate in.
The news didn’t appear to be surprising as Plushenko was known to be battling injuries entering the Sochi games after a career’s worth of surgeries. However, the skater has already won a gold medal in the team figure skating competition this week and the men’s contest’s deep field of skaters meant medaling there would have been a stretch.
The 31-year-old sportsmen is the only modern-era figure skater to win medals in four Olympics.
“I think it’s God saying, ‘Evgeni, enough, enough with skating,'” said Plushenko, who originally was hurt in a training session Wednesday. “Age, it’s OK. But I have 12 surgeries. I’d like to be healthy.”
As The Huffington Post reports, the legendary skater fell on a triple axel and said it felt “like a knife in my back.” He came to his coaches while bent over, then tried to loosen up by skating around the Iceberg rink some more.
But when he failed to perform axel he consulted with coach Alexei Mishin. When Plushenko’s name was announced to the crowd seconds later — to loud applause — he skated to the event referee and withdrew. When leaving the ice, the 31-year-old held up both hands to the crowd as if to say he was sorry, and took a small bow.
“I said to myself, ‘Evgeni, you must skate. It’s two more days, short and long program,'” the 2006 Olympic gold medalist said. Plushenko also brought to his country silver in 2002 and 2010 Olympics.
He was Russia’s only man schedued for the competition, so the host country will have no finisher in the event.
“Plushenko finished second at the Russian national championships and didn’t appear headed for Sochi at all. He was added to the Russian roster late last month after a trial run-through in front of federation officials convinced them he was the country’s best men’s option,” The Huffington Post writes.
That decision paid off when the legendary skater finished second in the team short program and first in the free skate, helping Russia to win its first gold of the Sochi Games.
In that final full practice the day before, Plushenko fell three times, but he didn’t seem to be hurt was laughing and joking with Mishin after two of the flops. Mishin even said Plushenko was “ready” for the men’s event.
However, unfortunately for Russia, things radically changed Thursday, and when Plushenko limped out of the arena, the cheers turned to mild applause from the stunned audience.
“Some people say we had this plan from the very beginning, but we did not,” the sportsmen assured reporters. “We were going to go to the end. If I really wished to withdraw after the tem event, I would have.”