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Russia’s Dual Olympic champion Plushenko to start training next month — coach

April 17, 2015, 18:34 UTC+3 BAKU

Russian figure-skater and twice Olympic champion Evgeni Plushenko will return to sports and take part in the world and European championships in 2016

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Evgeni Plushenko

Evgeni Plushenko


BAKU, April 17. /TASS/. Russian figure skating star Evgeni Plushenko, who earlier in the day announced his comeback from retirement, will start skating practices next month to prepare for the 2015-2016 season, his coach Alexey Mishin told TASS on Friday.

"Plushenko will start his preparations for the new season in May," Mishin said in an interview with TASS. "He has plenty of health for all World and European Championships prior to the 2018 Olympics. There is also enough health for the [2018] Olympics."

"Evgeni is in perfect physical condition," Mishin said. "When he hits the ice he looks much younger than other figure skaters."

Earlier in the day two-time Olympic Champion Plushenko told a TASS correspondent: "Now I can announce my comeback to sports," adding that his main goal would be to qualify for the World and European Championships and eventually skate for Russia at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea’s PyeongChang.

"The word of comeback is the wrong one in regard to Plushenko," Mishin said. "I do not consider it a comeback because he never quit. He always kept working despite his injury."

"It is not accidental that Plushenko is referred to as the best figure skater of the century," Mishin said. "No other figure skater in our [national] team is referred to like this."

Although retired in the past Plushenko first stunned media last summer by announcing that he intended to compete for another title at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea’s PyeongChang, which may turn into his 5th career Olympics.

The titled 32-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 last year at Russia’s Winter Olympics in Sochi.

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 2014 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 last March for the surgery on his back, but drew mass criticism across Russia.

During a warm-up before the individuals’ performance, Plushenko attempted a triple axel jump, but landed uncomfortably 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 last year made front page headlines as many sports experts argued that the Russian Figure Skating Federation’s decision was justified. 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 LDPR would do everything possible to disband the country’s figure skating governing body in case Plushenko failed to take the gold in Sochi.

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