The legendary Russian figure skater who announced his retirement after a back injury in Sochi reportedly said he may try to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
"If need be, I'll have another 10 operations... I'm not ruling out that I'll go for a fifth Olympic Games," Evgeni Plushenko reportedly told Russian state television Tuesday, according to Reuters.
Russians turned on Plushenko, who helped the country win its first gold medal at the Sochi Games, after he withdrew from the men's short program while complaining of severe spinal pain during the warmup.
"I feel sorry for my fans, and I feel sorry for everybody. But I tried -- I tried until the end... I almost cried there, because it's hard, believe me. This is the end of my career," Pluskehnko had said in an interview with NBC Thursday.
"I am normal people like you. I'm not robot. I try my best and I try to go 'til the end," the 31-year-old said.
Russians began criticizing Plushenko suggesting he didn't try hard enough.
"We always competed through pain," longtime rival Alexei Yagudin said.
Yagudin told R-Sport news agency he supports "people who go to the end."
Plushenko was the sole Russian men singles skater in Sochi after beating out 18-year-old Maxim Kovtun.
Some politicians took Plushenko's withdrawal as a blow to Russia's national pride.
"Perform through the pain for the honor of the country," Igor Lebedev, a parliament member from the nationalist Liberal Democrats, said on Twitter.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.