In a generous gesture, Alex, presented his 100
freestyle Gold Medal from Atlanta to his "second father," Coach
Gennadi Touretski. He said it was great to be back in Canberra with his
Australian family, Gennadi's wife Inna and daughter Sasha.
Touretski said, "I don't see this as a gold
medal. It is really a piece of my heart."
Asked whether he had started training, Popov replied,
"No, the only times I've been wet since Atlanta have been under the
shower. I'll start back in a couple of days, with the European Championships
in August next year and the World Championships in Perth, January 1998 as
my next goals."
Alex celebrated his 25th birthday on Saturday,
Like a true champion, the world's fastest freestyler
plays down the knife attack in Moscow. He refers to it as just some bad
luck that was inevitable after his good luck in Atlanta.
On waking up the morning after the knifing and
subesquent operation, "My head was absolutely clear. I said to myself
that I am mentally and physically tough enough to overcome this, swim again
and win again. I will swim faster."
The attitude and words of a true champion. There
will only be one Alex Popov, but swimming could do with more who have his
attitude for excellence in sport and life. Alex is a Ph.D. student in Sport
Sciences, majoring in the Structure of International Sport.
Popov was elected by his Olympic peers as their
choice to represent them on the International Olympic Committee's Athletes
UNESCO, through its All-Time Greats Committee, including athletes such as Bob Beamon, awarded Popov the 1996 Prize for his contribution to world sport at a ceremony in Paris, France, on November 1.