Injured Honda pulls out of figure skating worlds

Compiled From Kyodo, AP

MOSCOW — Japan’s top male figure skater Takeshi Honda pulled out of the world championships Monday after suffering an ankle injury during the qualifying competition.

Honda, who won the bronze medal at the 2002 and 2003 worlds, sustained the injury during the free program in Group B of the qualifying round on the opening day of the championships in Moscow.

The 23-year-old hurt his left ankle when he fell trying to land a quadruple jump. He was unable to stand up by himself and had to be taken off the rink in a wheelchair.

Honda missed most of the 2003-04 season with injuries and was making his first appearance at this event since taking bronze two years ago.

Meanwhile, three-time world champion Evgeni Plushenko had a strong performance Monday in men’s qualifying.

A question mark hung over the Russian’s entry in the qualifying, but he delivered a solid routine despite suffering from back pain.

As the first skater in the afternoon group he scored 151.90 points with his performance to music from “The Godfather,” doing eight triples. He didn’t attempt a quad.

“It was tough to skate,” Plushenko said. “I still can’t recover my breath because of a tightening in my back. It’s difficult to breathe.”

Plushenko has won three world championships, four Grand Prix Final crowns and six Russian titles. He won his fourth European title last month.

In the morning qualification, Stephane Lambiel of Switzerland completed two quads and six triples to beat last year’s silver medalist, Brian Joubert of France. Lambiel had 152.00 points, while Joubert had 132.00.