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Injury ends Lysacek's bid to defend Olympic title

Evan Lysacek skates in an exhibition on January 30, 2011 in Greensboro, North Carolina
Evan Lysacek skates in an exhibition on January 30, 2011 in Greensboro, North Carolina

Reigning Olympic figure skating champ Evan Lysacek has halted his comeback bid eight weeks ahead of the Sochi Games due to a nagging hip injury, the US star announced on Tuesday.

The 28-year-old tore the labrum in his left hip in August and said four months of recovery and rehab have done little to lessen the "excruciating" pain he suffers from.

"In recent weeks the pain has become excruciating," he said Tuesday. "Nothing has worked. The whole time I thought I was healing, the process was actually not happening."

Lysacek has not competed since winning gold at the 2010 Vancouver Games and now says that he faces possible surgery to fix the problem. But he shot down suggestions that he this could be a careering-ending injury.

"I have had a great career and I hope it doesn't end this way. I would like for it to end on a positive note," he said.

Lysacek said he made the decision to withdraw from the Sochi Games last week after doctors told him he risked permanent injury.

"My goal was to be 100 percent healthy for Sochi. I followed doctors orders and remained optimistic," Lysacek said. "Doctors advised me I shut down the training because I could be doing severe permanent damage if I continue."

Lysacek said he initially felt fine when he returned to the ice in October but as the training intensified so did the pain. He doesn't want his Vancouver golden moment to be his last figure skating win.

"I have had obstacles and setbacks. In some ways I put more into this comeback for Sochi than I did to get ready for the victory in Vancouver," he said.

"Figure skating takes so much sacrifice and that is what sets it apart. You have to deliver under pressure and the pressure of the Olympic moment takes super-human strength.

"The last several weeks have been so painful. I don't want those to be my last memories on ice."

Lysacek said the next step is to follow doctors orders and get more treatment.

"Surgery is possible. But I haven't looked much beyond that," he said.

"I am still processing it. I haven't taken the time to sit down and think about the next couple of months except I am going to follow my doctors orders for recovery."

Lysacek said he had remained hopeful of defending his men's title up until last week.

"What makes it so difficult is that I have always recovered from every injury I had before. I had no doubt this would be the same. I never let myself think about the possibility of it not working out.

"This has been my whole life. Competing for my country has been everything for me."

In Vancouver, Lysacek became the first American to win the Olympic men's gold since Brian Boitano in 1988.

He also won the 2009 world championships and was US champion in 2007 and 2008.

Lysacek's announcement comes two months after the retirement of US teammate Johnny Weir.

Russia's Yvegeny Plushenko, 31, won the Olympic silver in Vancouver, finishing second to Lysacek.

Former Olympic champion Plushenko is hoping to compete in Sochi and challenge for a spot on the podium along with world champion Patrick Chan of Canada.

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