The Week That Was: David Popovici Puts Sprinting World on Notice; Tokyo to Go On With No Spectators

Photo Courtesy: Andrea Masini / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

The Week That Was sponsored by Suitmate.

With less than two weeks until the start of the Olympic Games, Romania’s David Popovici has put the world on notice, blasting the top time in the world in the 100 freestyle at just 16 years of age at the European Juniors. Popovici may have catapulted himself to medal favorite come Tokyo if he is to handle the nerves that come with the Olympic Games, although spectators will not be allowed in Tokyo, as recently announced this past week.

Read the five biggest stories of the week in The Week That Was sponsored by Suitmate.

The Week That Was #1: Tokyo Olympics to Go On With No Spectators

Tokyo-Olympics-Mask-Olympic Games

By Andy Ross

The Tokyo Olympics will be held with no spectators for the duration of the 16-day event. Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa has confirmed that fans will be banned from all Olympic venues in response to the new coronavirus state of emergency, according to a report from Inside The Games.

Venues were originally going to be closed to international spectators, with Japanese citizens allowed to fill each stadium to 50% capacity. But that ruling was under the assumption that the COVID-19 pandemic would be under control in Japan. The country is currently under its latest “state of emergency,” meaning that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will keep the city under its toughest COVID restrictions through August 12, which is a little less than a week after the conclusion of the Games. This will be the country’s fourth state of emergency.

#2: David Popovici Rockets to 47.30 in 100 Free at European Juniors


Photo Courtesy: Andrea Masini / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

By David Rieder

The week of David Popovici continues at the European Junior Championships in Rome. Competing in the Foro Italico that hosted the 1994 and 2009 World Championships, the 16-year-old from Romania won the men’s 100 free in 47.30, which knocked a quarter-second off his own world junior record of 47.56 set two days earlier as the leadoff leg on his country’s 400 free relay. That performance made Popovici the fastest man in the world for 2021, surpassing the 47.31 that Russia’s Kliment Kolesnikov swam to win the event at the European Championships in May. Popovici himself was sixth in that race in 48.08, so he has improved his lifetime best by almost eight tenths in two months.

The rest of the global top five includes world champion Caeleb Dressel, Italy’s Alessandro Miressi and defending Olympic gold medalist Kyle Chalmers, so that’s an elite group Popovici now sits ahead of just three weeks before the 100 free Olympic final. He has quickly jumped into contention for an Olympic medal that absolutely no one saw coming even a week ago, and he could post another impressive mark in the 200 free in the coming days.

“I am excited because of today’s result,” Popovici said, per LEN. “I knew I was able to swim a time like this. This also confirms that I am training well for Tokyo. I am not going to stop here. I am aiming for the Olympic podium. I am glad that my parents were here tonight and could see my swim. It is important to me to receive the support of my family before and after the races.”

The Week That Was #3: Cate Campbell Selected as Flag Bearer For Australia in Opening Ceremony

The Australian Swimming team cheer the Cate Campbell announcement. Swimming team celebrations of the announcement of Cate Campbell as flagbearer for the Australian Olympic Team at Tokyo2020 Olympic Games. Cairns Australia, July 7 2021. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. Photo by Delly Carr. Pic Credit Mandatory for free usage. Thank you.

Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr

By Ian Hanson

Cate Campbell, who has been very much the leading lady of Australia swimming over the past decade, will now become one of the leaders of the country’s Olympic team, named tonight to share the Flag Bearing duties at the 2020 Tokyo Games, with another four—time Olympian, inspiring indigenous basketball star Patty Mills.

The four-time Olympic swimmer received the news as she sat amongst the 35-strong swim team, gathered in their blazers inside their pre-Games training camp in Cairns – greeting the decision with tumultuous cheering.

While Campbell was in the same Australian time zone when the news was announced by Team Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman and beamed live around the country on Olympic Network, Channel 7 – NBL star Mills was joined by his Boomers team mates at 2am in Los Angeles.

And waiting in the wings to present Campbell the Aussie flag was swimming’s Olympic icon, four-time gold medallist Dawn Fraser – who carried the flag in the closing ceremony the last time Tokyo hosted the Games in 1964.

Campbell, at 28, who like Mills, started her Olympic career in Beijing in 2008, is the first female swimmer and the third swimmer to carry the flag, joining Olympic gold medallist Andrew “Boy” Charlton in 1932 in Los Angeles and Max Metzker who along with track star Denise Robertson-Boyd, shared the duties in Moscow in 1980 – carrying not the Australian flag but the Olympic flag.

#4: FINA Confirms Altered IOC Rule 50 as Protest, Expression, Restrictions Eased For Olympics

Mack Horton AUS protests Sun Yang's CHN Gold Medal, 400m Freestyle Final, 18th FINA World Swimming Championships 2019, 21 July 2019, Gwanju South Korea. Pic by Delly Carr/Swimming Australia. Pic credit requested and mandatory for free editorial usage. THANK YOU.

Mack Horton protests Sun Yang’s Gold Medal in the 400m free at 2019 World titles in Gwanju, South Korea – Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr/Swimming Australia

By Dan D’Addona

One of the most talked about and controversial storylines heading into the Olympics in Tokyo has been the stance on athlete self-expression and social protest. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has altered its Rule 50 with updated guidelines, endorsed by FINA, that ease some of the restrictions.

Under Rule 50 new guidance athletes will be able to express their views on the field of play before competition so long is it is not targeted against people, not disruptive and not otherwise prohibited by national Olympic committees or international federations.

Expressions and protests during competition, in the Olympic village and during ceremonies — including medal, opening and closing ceremonies — remain against Rule 50 baring “political, religious or racial propaganda.”

Following discussions with the IOC, the International Swimming Federation (FINA) has confirmed a wide range of opportunities for athlete self-expression at the aquatics competitions of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. These opportunities for athletes to express their views will include:

  • In the mixed zones, including when speaking to the media
  • In the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) or the Main Media Centre (MMC), including when speaking to the media
  • During press conferences in the venue or in the MMC
  • During interviews
  • At team meetings, subject to NOC conditions
  • In traditional media or digital media
  • Through social media channels, consistent with IOC and NOC social media guidelines

The Week That Was #5: Nick Albiero & Trenton Julian to Return For Fifth Year


Nicolas Albiero; Photo Courtesy: Mike Comer / NCAA Photos via Getty Images

By Andy Ross & David Rieder

2021 NCAA 200 butterfly NCAA champion Nick Albiero has committed to a fifth year of eligibility for the University of Louisville, he confirmed on Sunday. Albiero was instrumental in Louisville’s 200 medley relay NCAA title this year, swimming the butterfly leg for the school’s first relay national title in school history. The next day, he won the school’s first ever NCAA title in the 200 butterfly in an emotional win in what was believed to be his final swim for the school.

Cal’s Trenton Julian, who finished second, third and fourth individually at the 2021 NCAA championships and then qualified for the final in three events at the U.S. Olympic Trials, will be returning to Berkeley for a fifth year. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCAA announced that all winter sport athletes during the 2020-2021 year would be allowed an extra year of athletic eligibility, and Julian decided to take advantage of that change.

“The fifth year made the most sense to me because I still had some classes left in the fall, which would have conflicted with going pro or ISL,” he said. “Being with the team and training with them through the fall and then through the spring made the most sense, and it’s something I wanted to do to kind of stay with that team through another semester where it will be a little more of that normal atmosphere in training.”

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