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Kazakh Olympic figure skater says Plushenko is world’s greatest athlete

SOCHI, February 16, /ITAR-TASS/. Russian figure skater Evgeni Plushenko should have been awarded the Sochi Olympics gold medal just for his effort to take part in the Winter Games, Denis Ten, the first and only Kazakh Olympic medalist in figure skating, said.

Russia’s two-time Olympic champion Plushenko withdrew on Thursday from the figure skating competition in men’s individuals citing back injury. The 31-year-old figure skater struggled with back injuries over the past two skating seasons, but grabbed his second Olympic gold last week at the Sochi Olympics in figure skating team event.

“Plushenko proved that he is one of the greatest athletes in the world,” Denis Ten, who won the bronze medal in men’s individuals figure skating on Friday, said.

Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu won the gold medal in the competition scoring a total of 280.09 points, while Patrick Chan of Canada won the silver medal (275.62) and Denis Ten of Kazakhstan won the bronze medals (255.10).

“If he [Plushenko] participated than there would have been more of hype and the Olympics would have been more colorful,” Ten said.

The 20-year-old figure skater said that although Plushenko did not compete in the individual program, the competition was on the whole very interesting.

“Both Patrick Chan and Yuzuru Hanyu are two experienced leaders in figure skating,” he said. “It was an honor for me to share the Olympic podium with them.”

The Kazakh skater also said he was not aware of the sum paid by his country’s government for winning a bronze medal at the Sochi Olympics, but the most important prize for him was to receive a congratulatory message from President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

“It was the highest ever level of honor to receive a letter from such dignitary,” he said. “The most important for me now is to add something more to the development of sports in Kazakhstan.