Aleksandr Popov dominated swimming’s marquee events, the 50m and 100m freestyle, and became the world’s premier sprinter during the 1990s. He won a total of nine Olympic medals at three Olympic Games from 1992-2000, including four individual gold medals.
Popov became the first Olympic swimmer since Johnny Weissmuller in 1924 and 1928 to win back-to-back sprint races, doing so in 1992 and then again in 1996. A Volgograd native, Popov moved to Australia to be with his Russian coach Gennadi Touretski, but he never gave up his Russian citizenship. He competed for the Unified Team in 1992 and the Russian Team thereafter.
He held seven World records during his career. His 100m freestyle (long course) record of 48.21 held for six years until broken by Michael Klim of Australia. His 100m freestyle (short course) record of 46.74 held for 10 years and was later broken by Ian Crocker of the United States.
In total, he won six World Championship and 21 European Championship gold medals from 1991-2004. He was named the European Swimmer of the Year in 1994 and 2003. Currrently, Popov is a full member of the International Olympic Committee and serves as the Vice Chairman of the Athletes Commission for FINA.