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The titled 31-year-old Russian figure skater performed in four Olympics throughout his career, winning his first Olympic gold at the 2006 Winter Games in Italy’s Turin and the second in February this year at Russia’s Winter Olympics in Sochi.
“Everything that was broken has healed up and there is nothing left to break again,” he told journalists on Wednesday. “I will try to go for my fifth Olympics and perform decently.”
Plushenko, who also brought Russia silver medals both at the 2002 Olympics in US Salt Lake City and at the 2010 Olympics in Canada’s Vancouver and won seven European champion titles, struggled with back injuries over the two skating seasons prior to the Sochi Olympics, but kept insisting that he would be able to perform well on his home ice.
He partly kept his promise winning the gold in team’s competition in Sochi, but his withdrawal from the men’s individuals saw him not only going to Israel in early March for the surgery on his back, but drew mass criticism across Russia.aggravating his old injury and breaking a screw that supported an artificial intervertebral disk in his back. Eventually, the Russian figure skating star withdrew from the competition and later announced that he had decided to quit sports for good.
Plushenko’s selection to represent Russia at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi early this year made front page headlines as many sports experts argued that the Russian Figure Skating Federation’s decision was unjustified. Plushenko’s main rival for a spot in the Olympic team, then-18-year-old Maxim Kovtun, left the 2006 Olympic champion behind with silver in Russia’s national championship in late December of 2013.
However, Kovtun finished fifth at the European Championship in Budapest the following month, behind two other Russian figure skaters. The Russian Figure Skating Federation decided in favor of Plushenko after the federation’s special committee watched his individual trial skate program for the Olympics.
The federation’s decision to grant Plushenko the only spot of men’s singles discipline in Russia’s Olympic figure skating team raised objections not only among Russian sports fans but politicians as well, who called for selecting Kovtun instead.
Russia’s flamboyant and outspoken lawmaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky said addressing the parliament’s lower house that his Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) would do everything possible to disband the country’s figure skating governing body in case Plushenko failed to take the gold in Sochi.