SOCHI, February 13. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian figure skater Evgeni Plushenko quitted his sports career on Thursday, February 13.
He made an announcement ahead of men’s short program at the Sochi Olympics after getting his back injured in a jump during a pre-contest warm-up.
Minister of Sport Vitaly Mutko said Plushenko had fulfilled his mission at the Olympics. “I saw what happened. Plushenko withdrew from the short programme for health reasons. There is nothing to comment on. But he fulfilled his mission at the tournament by winning gold in the team event, and we all say a big thank you to him for that,” the minister said.
Plushenko’s wife Yana Rudkovskaya said he could not put his health at risk further. “He could have tried to skate his free program on painkillers, but then we would have had a situation identical to that at the Russian Championship. Plushenko did all his could for the country and even more. He won the gold medal at his fourth Olympic Games,” she said.
The athlete hoped to compete in individual events until the last minute, “but we could not put his health at risk further. He’s got prosthetic intervertebral plates in his spine, but he has a life to live,” Rudkovskaya said.
Valentin Piseyev, Director-General of the Russian Skating Federation, told ITAR-TASS that Plushenko deserved all the support he could get and was a real hero of Russia.
He warned against attempts to criticize the athlete for his withdrawal from individual events. “He will come under fire now, but he should pay this no attention. He could withdraw after the team competition, but he decided to give it a try and to compete in individual events. No one may criticize him for that. On the contrary, this shows that he is a real fighter,” the official said.
Piseyev believes that all hopes for the future of Russian figure skating were pinned on current champion Maxim Kovtun. “Unfortunately, he got sick before the Olympic Games, but he is our future. All his achievements are still in store for him. A world championship will soon be held in Japan, he will go there, and we shall hope he will perform well there,” Piseyev said.