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MOSCOW, March 31. /TASS/. Russia’s two-time Olympic Champion in figure skating Evgeni Plushenko deserves the best gratitude for his contribution into Russian sport as he is one of the best athletes in the history of national sports, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko said on Friday.
Earlier in the day, Plushenko said on air of Russia’s sports television channel Match-TV, that he was wrapping up his sports career and would not be participating in 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea’s PyeongChang.
"I would like to thank Evgeni for his dedicated service and contribution into sports and figure skating," Mutko, who oversees issues regarding sports, tourism and youth policies in the country, stated.
"He is an unforgettable athlete and one can only regret about his decision (to retire)," Mutko said. "I hope he will continue taking part in figure skating activities and help the development of the sport being a landmark figure for the rest."
In an interview with TASS earlier in the day, Plushenko said he intended to start a new career of a coach in figure skating.
"I would like to hold a news conference, where I will tell about my future plans," Plushenko said in an interview with TASS. "I am tuning in for a new career and it will be a career of a coach. I continue taking part in demonstration figure skating events, but my new career will be the story of a coach."
Plushenko 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. He retired from sports after the Sochi Olympics.
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 in 2014 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. However, in April 2015 he stunned numerous fans by announcing his comeback.