Aleksandr Vladimirovich Popov, also known as Alexander Popov, (born November 26, 1971) is a Russian Olympian who is known to be the greatest spring freestyle swimmer in history after winning two gold medals at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. He started swimming when he was 8 at the Children and Youth Sports School. His father insisted he take swimming lessons and ever since, he has been in love with the water. He started out as backstroker then later switched to freestyle after joining Gennadi Touretski’s squad in 1990. Alexander Popov was nicknamed “Sasha”, “The Russian Rocket”, “Big Dog” and “Ice Man”.
Greatest Sporting Achievements
Popov was unbeatable in the 90s. He won gold medals in the 50 and 100 sprint events at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics and silver in both the 4x100 freestyle relay and medley relay.
His career is studded with gems – competed at the World Championships and won 6 gold, 4 silver and 1 bronze and the European Championships winning 21 gold, 3 silver and 2 bronze.
He was named Russian Athlete of the Year and European Sports Press Union Athlete of the Year in 1996.
Alexander Popov received the Order of Merit for the Fatherland, Order of Friendship and honored Master of Sports.
Why Was He So Good?
Popov was the master of timing. He had that fine feel for accurately where he was in relation to those who wanted to make it the wall before him.
“In the crucial, final moments, I was able to release a special kind of concentration and energy, which drove me forwards. I was born with it. I always knew approximately how fast I was.”
What You May Not Know
- He was once stabbed in the abdomen during a dispute with three Moscow street vendors. The knife sliced his artery, grazed one of his kidneys and damaged the membrane of his lungs. He spent three months in rehab after that then was off to the 1997 European Championships in Spain where he defended his 50 m and 100 m freestyle titles.
- In 1997, he married fellow Olympic swimmer Darya Shmeleva.
- Popov has a Bachelor and Master’s degree in Sports Coaching.
Was he a legend?
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