About Aleksandr Vladimirovich Popov
Aleksandr Vladimirovich Popov (also Alexander Popov, Russian: Александр Владимирович Попов); (born 16 November 1971) is a Russian former Olympic gold-winning swimmer regarded as one of the greatest sprint freestyle swimmers of all time, and the only male swimmer in history to win four individual Olympic gold medals in freestyle events.
He began swimming at age 8 at the Children and Youth Sports School of Fakel Sports Complex in Lesnoy, at that time afraid of water. However, his father insisted on him taking swimming lessons in that sports school, and in his own words, he has "been stuck there ever since". Popov started out as a backstroker but switched to freestyle when he joined Gennadi Touretski's squad in 1990 on the initiative by the Head Coach of the USSR National Team Glep Petrov. He later moved from Russia to Australia to be with his coach.
Popov won the men's 50 m and 100 m freestyle in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, and repeated his victories in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, becoming the first man to do so since Johnny Weissmuller. He presented Touretski with his 1996 Olympic gold medal from the 100 m freestyle. "I have a title and I'm on the paper, but, you know, Gennadi hasn't gotten anything from Atlanta or from Barcelona," Popov said. "But I know how much this particular medal means for him, is worth for him."
One month after the Atlanta Olympics, he was stabbed in the abdomen with a knife during a dispute with three Moscow street vendors. The knife sliced his artery, grazed one of his kidneys and damaged the pleura, the membrane that encases the lungs. He had emergency surgery and spent three months in rehabilitation. At the 1997 European Championships in Seville, Spain, he successfully defended his 50 m and 100 m freestyle titles.
In the 2003 Barcelona World Championships, Popov once again made a clean sweep of the men's 50 m and 100 m freestyle events, citing that Barcelona would always be special to him, for it was there that for him, everything first began. He announced his participation in the 2004 Athens Olympics. However, being the oldest competitor at the pool, the gold medal eluded him, and he did not even manage to make it into the finals of both the men's 50 m and 100 m freestyle events. He announced his retirement from the sport in January 2005.