Eleftherios Petrounias: From World Championships crown to operating gown

The Greek Olympic champion's incredible story of victory against all odds continues.

Eleftherios Petrounias is no stranger to struggle.

The Rio rings winner had been suffering with a tendon problem in his left shoulder for an entire year and almost pulled out of the 2018 Doha World Championships.

Instead he blocked out the pain and won his third World rings title.

Three days later he went from the podium to the operating room in Annecy, France, to have the surgery his shoulder so desperately needed.

It was successful, as his social media post proves, that Petrounias permasmile beaming out from his hospital bed.

Love and strength

The operation was completed in the morning on Monday and the Greek champion remained in the Annecy General Clinic for 24 hours.

Already thinking ahead, he hopes to be back in training in three months and thanked fans for all the support:

The love and strength you gave me to climb back up on the rings a few days ago will be my inspiration during my recovery. - Eleftherios Petrounias

Surgery with a smile

Right after his third World Championships win in Doha, Petrounias told the Olympic Channel how "amazing" his win felt and that he was going "for the surgery happy."

Petrounias: "give up or go harder"

Doha wasn't the first time he had to overcome hardship to reach the top.

Petrounias lost his father just two weeks before becoming world champion in Scotland in 2015.

"When these difficult things start happening in your life, you need to choose between two things: to give up on everything or to go harder," he said to the Olympic Channel Podcast.

"I chose to go harder."

Tokyo trail

Even back in 2015 after that World Championships win in Glasgow the king of the rings was thinking ahead to Tokyo.

"In gymnastics, (we) have three European championships and two world championships (until Tokyo 2020) so I want to go without losing until that time."

And, of course, (I want) to win in Tokyo 2020."

The 27-year-old has won four European Championships in-a-row since 2015 along with the 2015 Worlds, gold at Rio in 2016, the 2017 and 2018 World Championships and is on course to complete his Tokyo target.

A successful title defence in Tokyo would make him the first man to win back-to-back Olympic rings gold medals since Japan's Akinori Nakayama in Mexico City '68 and Munich '72.

No-one has ever won three.

Find out more about the Greek god of the rings and his incredible story here:

Relive Petrounias' podium-topping performance at Rio 2016 here, a win that lifted the Greek nation.