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Evgeni was a sickly child, constantly getting colds, coughs and infections. So when Evgeni was 3, the family moved to Volgograd. A year later a chance encounter was to change his life. Mother Tatiana was walking Zhenya thruogh a park, giving him his daily exercise, when she ran into an annoyed acquaintance dragging her daughter who was crying because she didn't want to skate. The acquaintance asked Zhenya if he would like to skate and when he said, yes, she promptly gave the girl's skates to his mother. Rather surprised by this unexpected windfall, Tatiana and Zhenya proceeded to a frozen pond. Zhenya did not have to be encouraged to try out the skates and it looked like he had fun. " I was totally fascinated by it". The acquaintance later suggested Tatiana take him to the Palais des Sport where he could get skating lessons.


A few months later Plushenko took part in his first competition, finishing seventh out of 15 - not bad considering that some of his rivals had taken classes for a year and-a-half.Tatiana was very happy he had somewhere to use up his energy. He was a very active child. He couldn't sit still and was always where he shouldn't be. When he came home from training , he was tired. We were very happy about that. His first teacher was Tatiana Nikolaevna Skala.Then he was trained of Mikhail Makaveyev, a master of sports in weight lifting who had organized a figure skating school. Now there's an unusual combination, Evgeni explained. " He was en excellent coach for physical preparation and off-ice training to help with the jumps". At age 7 he won his first competition at the Chrystal Skate tournament in Samara. " I wanted to win. People began to say maybe this could be a future champion. He was what we can call a unpolished diamond.
But 1993 the rink where he skated was closed. His mom thought that that was the end of figure skating, but Evgeni thought another thing. He wanted to go to St.Petersburg or Moscow to train but his mom told him that they did not have money for that. Mikhail Makaveyev saw in Evgeni a true figure skater and he sent him to St.Petersburg to a friend of his that would take care of him, and what a friend...no other than one of the finest figure skating coaches that there are, Alexei Nickolaevich Mishin. It was a great coup for Evgeni to be accepted by Mishin but he had to move to St.Petersburg about 1.000 miles to the north. At first his mother could only stay with him briefly and he stayed in a dormitory, a very unpleasant time. But then he and his mother shared a small apartment with another family, and his coach paid most of the rent. Growing up with so little , he was motivated to become successful at skating. " It was hard. I had to find out at a very young age things that no one needs to find out. Everything was a problem because of money ". Fending for himself was not easy. He lived for a year without his parents" , I never ate enough and went to sleep hungry very often. I missed my mom's cooking - borsht, pelmini, chicken and potatoes..I was very, very lonely . I'm trying to forget this time in my life now, he says ".


Some of his classmates made fun of him for practicing a " girls " sport. I fought sometimes. I had to prove them wrong. I proved with my fists that it wasn't true.

He become famous as the one of the very few male to do the Biellmanspin which requires extreme flexibility. He and his mother saw Denise Biellman, the 1981 World Champion, doing her trademark spin on television in which she yanks her skate over her head so it obscures her view of the ceiling. He decided he wanted to try it. So everyday his mom worked helping him stretch into that position. " I would lie on the couch and try and pull my leg up. I am very proud of it. I still do it but, from doing quads all the time, I'm getting some nagging injuries - groin, back, knee. Because of that the Biellman is more painful now. " I didn't want to do them, but now I thank her ".The others picked on him at the practice and made him cry everyday , they'd bop him on the forehead with their fingers and tell him to stop. They were jealous of him. Evgeni has used it since he started skating until now, it has become his trademark.
His unique combination of skills paid off quickly. He was a World bronze medalist at 15, and when he was 18 he won the World Championship.That same season, he became the first one to do a quadruple-toeloop-triple-toeloop-triple-loop combination. He is also the first one to do a different program in the qualifying and the freeskate rounds at Worlds. He is a very determined athlete. " I really want to show the world what I can do, he said once, I want to be World, European and Olympic Champion ". At the 2002 Olympics, he really showed his strenght, flexibility and determination. He rallied from a disappointing short program and went on to win the Silver medal!
But also this succes brought happiness to his heart because it made him fulfill another dream, to get the family together once again.At the age of 17, Evgeni told his parents to stop working, that from now on, he would take care of the family. " I told them: You've worked off !. They gave me so much, that's why I want them to relax ". He bought an apartment in St.Petersburg for him and his parents and another for his sister and niece. This is a lot of responsibilities at such a young age.

Evgeni's hard work, all the sacrifices, all the things that Evgeni never had , was worthy. His good sportmanship, humility and love for the sport have not only made him earn a lot of medals, but also he is winning the people's hearts....Evgeni is now The Worlds Greatest Skater!







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