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15 Dec, 2019 11:54

I WILL return, vows Olympic champ Zagitova as rumors rumble over decision to take career break

I WILL return, vows Olympic champ Zagitova as rumors rumble over decision to take career break

Russian Olympic figure skating champion Alina Zagitova has vowed she WILL return to competitive action, despite recently announcing she would be taking a career break.

Zagitova, 17, stunned the figure-skating world when she appeared on Russian television on Friday to announce that she was putting her career on ice and would be skipping the upcoming Russian championships – which automatically meant missing out on a place at the European and World Championships.

READ MORE: ‘I want my desire to compete back’: Champion skater Zagitova ‘suspends’ career

Amid rumors that she may be quitting the sport for good in favor of lucrative exhibition shows, Zagitova clarified in an Instagram post on Sunday that she had every intention of returning to competition on the ice.

“Following my latest TV appearance I am getting a lot of questions,” Zagitova wrote to her more than 700,000 followers. 

“For me Figure Skating is all about what I always worked for and continue working for since I was 4 years old. Forever I will be very grateful to my coaches for the tremendous job we have done and I am not planning either to stop or retire.

“I am still part of team Russia and still I can take part in international competitions for team Russia. I am continuing my figure skating way with the great support from my coaches,” she added.

Also on rt.com 'It's a shame the career of an Olympic champion lasts just 3 seasons' – coaching legend Tarasova on Zagitova 'pause' decision

Zagitova made her senior debut in the autumn of 2017, later going on to stun compatriot Evgeniya Medvedeva to take Olympic gold in South Korea.

She won the 2018 European Championships as well as the 2019 World Championships, although this season has struggled amid competition from an even younger generation of Russian stars able to incorporate complicated quad elements into their routines.

Zagitova finished just sixth at the Grand Prix final this year, where a young Russian trio led by Alena Kostornaia swept the podium.

Also on rt.com Kostornaia clinches figure skating GP Final crown with stellar performance & new WR as Russians sweep ladies’ podium

Zagitova’s decision to take a career pause has sparked a bitter war of words in Russian figure skating circles, with coach Eteri Tutberidze supposedly accusing others – including men’s legend Evgeni Plushenko – of attempting to lure her away by offering more money. Plushenko took to social media to dismiss those claims on Sunday.