Round 2: Gary Hall, Jr. vs Alexander Popov -- March 12, 1997
From the Phoenix Sports Club: Gary Hall Jr. escalated the war of words between himself and his Russian rival, Alexander Popov, calling him "the epitome of unsportsmanlike conduct."
Hall, Jr. added: "In the world of swimming. Alexander brings a new definition to the word shallow."
This all came about in Paris this week when Popov popped off at his American rival, his father (Dr. Gary Hall, Sr.), and American swimmers in general.
"He comes from a family of losers," blasted Popov. Hall, Jr's retort from his home in Phoenix, AZ was swift: "Alexander ought to quit now because that road is going to be a long and hard one, or learn the words of the 'Star Spangled Banner' because that's what Olympic audiences will be hearing for years to come."
"However, what really upsets me is that, in order to make himself feel better, Alexander must put down the Olympic accomplishments of his opponent's father. I am embarrassed for this coward of a man."
"I can't speak for the rest of my U.S. Swim team colleagues but I'm sure they probably share my views. Alexander is afraid of me and what I am capable of achieving."
Popov will get a chance to find out when he meets Hall, Jr. at the 1998 World Championships next January.