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Lysacek unable to defend Olympic title

Olympic figure skater Evan Lysacek poses for a portrait during the 2013 U.S. Olympic Team Media Summit in Park City, Utah September 30, 2013
Olympic figure skater Evan Lysacek poses for a portrait during the 2013 U.S. Olympic Team Media Summit in Park City, Utah September 30, 2013

(Reuters) - Olympic men's champion Evan Lysacek has abandoned hopes of defending his title in February's Sochi Olympics after failing to recover from a hip injury.

The 28-year-old tore the labrum in his left hip in August and despite aggressive treatment and physical therapy, he has been unable to regain full fitness.

With his doctor warning that the American risks suffering permanent damage unless he stops skating, Lysacek has opted to stop training until he has healed completely.

"Words cannot describe how disappointed I am to not be able to compete in Sochi," Lysacek, who has not competed since his 2010 triumph in Vancouver, said in a statement released by U.S. Figure Skating.

"The proudest moments of my life have been representing the United States in the last two Winter Olympics.

"I have suffered numerous injuries over the course of my skating career and they are some of the hardest things an athlete has to overcome. While none of my past injuries have sidelined me quite like this one, I remain determined to regain my health and skate again."

Speaking to NBC's Today show, Lysacek added: "The last several weeks have been so painful for me that I don't want those to be my last moments on the ice after such a great career. I'm determined to ... skate again and really be the one that decides when it's over."

Lysacek became the first American man in 24 years to win the Olympic gold medal and he is also likely to go down as the last male to win the coveted title without performing a quadruple jump.

His decision to concentrate on graceful execution rather than attempting high-flying quadruple jumps was heavily criticized by rival and 2006 Turin Games gold medalist Yevgeny Plushenko.

The Russian even declared that Lysacek was not "a true champion" as he triumphed without even trying to pull off a quad, which requires great height and pace to make at least four mid-air rotations.

The quad has since become an essential part of the men's competition, with all the top skaters attempting the jump in both their short and long programs, and Lysacek's body seems to have been unable to cope with the demands.

"The jumps and the physicality of the sport are incredible, and I think people don't know that," Lysacek, who also won the world title in 2009, added.

"They think it looks like ballet but really it is among the most difficult and physical sports in the world. The torque is immense. It's sometimes up to 100 times your body weight in torque. The training and the discipline that it takes are incredible."

Although Lysacek opted to take some time out following his Vancouver success, injuries and financial disputes with U.S. Figure Skating prevented him making a competitive comeback.

(Writing by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Alan Baldwin)

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