Alexander Popov (swimmer)

Alexander Vladimirovich Popov (Russian: Александр Владимирович Попов, scientific transliteration Aleksandr Popov Vladimirovič; born November 16, 1971 in Sverdlovsk ) is a former Russian swimmers. Due to its restrained dignified appearance and the unique elegant swimming technique, with which he the sprints for years " reigned " in the pelvis, Alexander Popov became known as " Czar ".


Alexander Popov began comparatively late in the swimming, because he first had to overcome his fear of water. After his father had taken eight years for the first time with the swimming pool, the fear was quickly forgotten and he had found his element. " The water is your friend ... you do not have to fight with the water, just share the same spirit as the water, and it will help you move. " ( Swimmers web, June 29, 2001)

He originally started as a back float, but moved under his coach Gennadi Turezki 1990 freestyle. Just one year later Popov celebrated his first international success when he won the title over 50 m freestyle at the European Short Course Championships in Gelsenkirchen. In the same year, Popov was also at the European Championships on the long course in Athens European champion in the 100 m freestyle. In this race, he equaled the recently established European record of the French Stéphan Caron. In 1992, Popov also won on the 50 meters route the European record. For all races especially the elegant swimming style was striking, with which Popov deposed from the competition. Here, his crawl technique was characterized by one for a short-distance swimmer incredibly low impact frequency. Compared to his opponents, which formally begin beating in part to the water, Popov left with not a few observers the impression that he contested the race with half the power.

At the Olympic Games in Barcelona in 1992 was followed by the final breakthrough. On both sprints Alexander Popov won each with a new European record in the gold medal. Among the vanquished belonged to the six-time Olympic medalist Matt Biondi of the float, which can be regarded as the legitimate predecessor Popov. At the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul four years earlier and the Americans had succeeded the double over 50 m and 100 m freestyle. Although Biondi in Barcelona by two gold medals in the relay events after Mark Spitz became the most successful swimmer of all time and, moreover, in addition to the World Championship title with 48.42 seconds held the world record in the 100 m freestyle, the time seemed to have come for a changing of the guard.

After the games, Alexander Popov followed his coach to Australia, where he had obtained a job at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra. Despite the change of residence Popov started on for his ancestral home. The decision to go to Australia seemed to impact positively on its performance. In 1993, he broke the 100m freestyle, the first 49 -second barrier and won beyond at the European Championships in Sheffield undisputed title over the two short distances. In the spring of the following year Popov showed already during the short course season, a remarkable early form when he won the world record four times improved over 100m freestyle final at 46.74 seconds. Exactly until almost to the day, ten years later someone could beat this time with Ian Crocker. In addition, Popov also marked yet a new world best about half the distance. On June 18, 1994, there was finally ready. Popov swam in a swimming meeting in Monaco, the 100 m freestyle in 48.21 seconds and improved so that on the long train the nearly six -year-old world record of Biondi equal to 21 hundredths of a second. In the subsequent World Championships in Rome, the favored Russians were no nakedness and added his two Olympic victories and European championship titles also the world title over 50 m and 100 m freestyle. Alexander Popov, who was now on the sprint distances as the measure of all things, both in 1995 and 1997 his two titles at the European Championships defended successfully. At the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, he underscored its global supremacy by pointing over both sprint distances the international competition on the courts and how four years earlier made ​​the Double perfect.

When Alexander Popov recovered after the Olympics at home leave, he was stabbed in Moscow after an argument from a street vendor and critically injured. After this incident, he spent three months in rehabilitation. " My soul was not damaged, my brain was not damaged, only my body. " (New York Times, April 23, 2000)

At the 1998 World Championships in Perth Alexander Popov had for the first time in seven years to suffer a defeat. Against the Americans Bill Pilczyk it handed over the short sprint distance only to second place. About 100 m freestyle on the other hand, the Olympic champion continued to hold harmless and won his second title after 1994. Subsequently time Popov always had tougher competition, even from Europe, resist. With Pieter van den Hoogenband while a man appeared on the international scene, the well had the potential to threaten the supremacy of Popov. At the European Championships in Istanbul in 1999, this conjecture seemed to confirm, as Popov had to let the Dutchman precedence over both 50 m and 100 m. However, in the run-up to the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney to Popov could beat the Hooge band for the defeats of the previous year at the European Championships in a direct duel against van back and won both titles. He presented more than 50 m freestyle with 21.64 seconds set a world record on, which could be only seven years later broken by Eamon Sullivan. But in the Olympic pool in Sydney, the yield was rather poor on the short distances for the outstanding freestyle swimmer in recent years. Popov remained above the 50 m without a medal, he had to over 100 m in third turn, van den Hoogenband admit defeat, which in addition with 47.84 seconds set a new world record and the first swimmer remained under 48 seconds. Just three days earlier, undercutting in the 4 × 100 meter freestyle relay swimmers launch of the Australian team, Michael Klim, Popov's record by three hundredths of a second.

By the time multiplied with Alexander Popov, the injury problems. When he renounced at the 2001 World Championships in Fukuoka for a start, parting seemed to have come from competitive sports to be. At the European Championships a year later, Popov was able to more than 100 m freestyle make a comeback, but his rival from the Netherlands it seemed finally enteilt. Boasting a charming time of 48.94 seconds was enough back not to victory, since a shiny DOMICILED Pieter van den Hoogenband his own world record missed by only two hundredths of a second and thus was more than a second faster than Popov. But at the 2003 World Championships in Barcelona Alexander Popov returned with a bang. At the site of his first major triumph as he won at his best in front of his nearest competitor, van den Hoogenband the gold in the 50 m and 100 m freestyle. He won a total of its individual medals at five and six world championships (5 x Gold, 1 x Silver).

When Alexander Popov in 2004 took part in the Olympic Games in Athens for the fourth time, the era of " Czar " now seemed finally to be over. Popov was able to qualify on its traditional routes for no final and thus was the first time in his career in the Olympics without a medal.

On January 29, 2005 Alexander Popov gave 33 years to retirement from competitive sport known. In his career he won four Olympic gold medals, 6- times world champion and 21- times European champions.


Alexander Popov graduated from the Sports Academy of Volgograd, where he graduated in 1994. 1996 Popov was elected to Atlanta in the IOC Athletes' Commission. Sydney 2000 was re-elected for a term of eight more years. Since 1999, Alexander Popov is a member of the IOC.

His models are the Russian long-distance swimmer Vladimir Salnikow and the pole vaulter Serhiy Bubka.

Alexander Popov lived until 1992 in St. Petersburg, from 1993 to 2002 in Canberra (Australia) and since January 2003, the family lives in Solothurn in Switzerland. Alexander Popov is married and has two children. Since his retirement from competitive events Popov worked for his many years main sponsor, Swiss watchmaker Omega.

He was elected in May 2009, the Supervisory Board of adidas AG.


* At the time of the creation of an official world record


  • European Swimmer of the Year 1994
  • European Swimmer of the Year 2003
  • European Athlete of the Year 1996
  • Sportsman of the Year 1996 ( Russia)
  • Order of Merit for the Fatherland in 1996
  • Russian Medal of Honor ( for his achievements in the sport)
  • International Swimming Hall of Fame 2009