MOSCOW: Israeli doctors have removed four screws from the back of Russian figure skating star Yevgeny Plushenko in a mammoth operation and expect him to make a full recovery, Russian state television said Wednesday. Plushenko pulled out of the individual competition at the Sochi Olympics after injuring his fragile back in practice. He had already won gold in the team competition and many questioned why he was skating in the individual. After a controversy that overshadowed the men’s skating finals at the Games, Plushenko, 31, went to an Israeli clinic in Tel Aviv for a new operation on his back.
Never shy of publicity, Plushenko allowed Russia’s Channel One television to film the operation, which took place this week, and his first nervous steps around the hospital ward. The television said the doctors had intended to replace a broken screw in his back that supports an artificial disc in his vertebrae. But seeing that the bone was now supporting the disc well, they decided to remove all four screws from his back. Plushenko, who announced his retirement in Sochi, said he did not rule out now returning to skating. “I am going to stop worrying that something will break,” he said dressed in a hospital smock. “Maybe I will continue sport. I’m joking, for the moment.”
With the characteristic bravado that makes him a love/hate figure, he added: “You need to sacrifice something for a medal. And I sacrificed my health. Someone will say I am a fool, someone else a hero. “But I am as I am, I love sport and I love risk.” The television, in somewhat macabre footage, showed the removed screws including the broken one that was supposed to have been indestructible. “It is supposed to be strong enough to go to space. But a triple and a half axel broke it in two,” the television said. The Russian-speaking Israeli doctors treating him said that the operation had gone so well he could be back to full form within months. “If you look half a year ahead then I would not prescribe any restrictions. I think he will be able to skate,” said doctor Ilya Pekarsky.
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