SWIMNEWS ONLINE: January 1997 Magazine Articles

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Paul Quinlan

Dual Olympic sprint gold medal winner Alexander Popov arrived back in Australia this week to begin his campaign for his third Olympics.

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, November 16.

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 Commission.

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.

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