Four-time Olympic medalist Evgeni Plushenko, the lone solo skater representing Russia in the men's short figure skating competition, withdrew today with an injury just before he was scheduled to perform and announced his retirement from competitive skating.
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Plushenko, 31, was warming up before competition when he attempted a triple axel jump. As he landed, he appeared to wince in pain.
In a tense moment after the warm-up fall, Plushenko took the ice to thunderous applause before his scheduled performance and went to the judges, where he told them he was withdrawing.
He then waved to the cheering crowd before leaving the ice.
"I think it's God saying, 'Evgeni, enough, enough with skating,'" Plushenko told the Associated Press after withdrawing. "Age, it's OK. But I have 12 surgeries. I'd like to be healthy."
Last summer, Plushenko underwent surgery to replace a disk in his spine with an artificial one.
In spite of his withdrawal, Plushenko will not leave his fourth Olympic games empty handed. Earlier this week, he won a gold medal in the team figure skating competition along with his Russian teammates.
He's previously won two silver medals and another gold medal during four different winter Olympic games, starting with the 2002 Olympic games in Salt Lake City.
Plushenko was the only skater for Russia in the men's short figure skating competition, which means his country will not have a chance at a solo medal in men's figure skating during these home games in Sochi, Russia.
In an interview with NBC Sports after withdrawing, Plushenko said he had back pain in training Wednesday and had been unable to do jumps even then. After trying to a jump during the warm-up, he said he knew he would be unable to compete.
"I almost cried because it's hard, believe me. This is [the] end of my career but I try to make best," said Plushenko. "I am normal people like you. I'm not robot. I try my best and I try to go 'til the end."