World Championships: David Popovici Sets WJR Of 1:43.21 To Win 200 Free; Hwang Sunwoo & Tom Dean On Podium

David Popovici European Jnrs
David Popovici: Photo Courtesy: deepbluemedia

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David Popovici set a world junior record of 1:43.21 to win the 200 free at the World Championships.

The 17-year-old overhauled Tom Dean on the third 50 before pulling away for a comprehensive victory to become the first Romanian man to top the world podium.

Hwang Sunwoo was second in 1:44.47 with Dean holding on by 0.03 for third in 1:44.98.

Dean was under 0.51 under world-record pace at 50 with Popovici on his shoulder with the Briton still inside Paul Biedermann‘s global mark at halfway.

The teenager made his move and was ahead at 150, and still under the WR, before moving away, slapping the water with his hand on looking up at the scoreboard.

Hwang, also a fine prospect for the future, had come past Dean for second with the Olympic champion holding off Drew Kibler to take bronze.


  1. David Popovici (ROU); 1:43.21 WJR
  2. Hwang Sunwoo (KOR); 1:44.47
  3. Tom Dean (GBR); 1:44.98
  4. Drew Kibler (USA); 1:45.01
  5. Felix Auboeck (USA); 1:45.11
  6. Kieran Smith (USA); 1:45.16
  7. Lukas Martens (GER); 1:45.73
  8. Elijah Winnington (AUS); 1:45.82

Popovici Evokes Memories Of Thorpe And Phelps

Popovici set a world junior record of 1:44.40 en-route to top spot in the semis and lane four in the final.

The 17-year-old was flanked by the European 400 silver medallist Felix Auboeck of Austria and Hwang – whose WJR Popovici eclipsed – with Olympic champion Dean of Britain in lane six.

His is a rare talent. Think of young male prodigies and the likes of Michael Phelps and Ian Thorpe spring to mind.

Born in the Romanian capital Bucharest on 15 September 2004, Popovici doesn’t turn 18 for almost another three months.

Before then he has the European Junior Championships in Bucharest and the senior showcase at the Foro Italico, Rome, in August.

It was at the European Junior Championships in the Italian capital last year that he announced himself on the international stage as poolsides around the world shuddered.

He claimed the junior crowns in the 50 freestyle (22.22), 100 free (47.30) and 200 free (1:45.95).

It was the middle distance in which Popovici shone brightest, as his winning mark not only established a world junior record but vaulted him to No. 1 in the world entering the Olympics.

That quickly, Popovici transformed from an intriguing prospect into a legitimate medal contender on the biggest stage in the sport.

On to Tokyo and the 16-year-old was fourth in the 200 free in a national record of 1:44.68, locked out of the podium by 0.02 as Fernando Scheffer claimed third.

That was followed by seventh in the 100 in 48.04 before failing to negotiate the 50 heats.



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1 year ago

Well done. It must be great to achieve this as a 17 year old

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