Van den Hoogenband’s role model Aleksandr Popov retires
Now Aleksandr Popov retires, we lose one of the best sprinters in the history of swimming. His legacy is impressive: in his 13-year reign, the "Czar” won 41 medals, including four golds and five silvers at the Olympics and six golds at World Championships. He intends to become the chairman of the Russian swimming association and pursue a career at the International Olympic Committee.
Popov, who started as a backstroker, emerged in 1991 with an European title at the 100m freestyle event. One year later, at the age of twenty, he won his first two gold medals at the Olympics. It was the beginning of an unrivalled series of victories at the 100m event. Up to 1999 he would stay undefeated at all major tournaments!
Pieter van den Hoogenband finally dethroned him at the EC in 1999 and again in 2000 at the Olympics. Popov held the world record (48.21 seconds) at the 100m freestyle since June 18th, 1994. It lasted for six years untill it was broken at the Olympics in Sydney first by the Australian Michael Klim (0.48.18) and later in the finals by Pieter van den Hoogenband (0.47.84). This record still stands today!
Original Dutch text by: Jos van Kuijeren for Zwemkroniek