Sunday, August 10, 2008

Александр Попов, Olympic champion

These days the name on everyone's lips is Michael Phelps. The record-breaking swimmer has netted one gold medal in Beijing and is on the hunt for seven more. But it's not just his skills in the water that captures people's attention. Women (and men) can't get enough of him in his tiny Speedo. As one college student put it, Michael Phelps "is amazing...right up there with unicorns and rainbows."

Before Phelps there was Ajumma's favorite, Olympic champion Alexander Popov (Александр Попов). Hailing from Russia, Popov won 4 Olympic gold medals, 6 world championships and dozens of European medals in swimming from 1991-2003. He's most recognized for his powerful and efficient stroke, which Phelps and his coach have studied in detail. Popov, nicknamed "The Russian Rocket," retired from swimming after the Athens games in 2004.

Popov currently acts as a member of the International Olympic Committee which determined Sochi, Russia as the host for the 2014 Winter Games. He is also a spokesperson for Omega Watches which invited Popov and swimmer Ian Thorpe to the opening of their Omega Pavilion in Beijing last week.