Russian swimmer Alexander Popov is a veteran of four Olympic Games and a four-time Olympic gold medalist.
Ironically, as a boy Popov was afraid of the water and had to be forced by his father to take swimming lessons. The prodding paid off as Popov went on to qualify for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics as a member of the Unified Team and won gold medals in the men’s 50m freestyle and 100m freestyle. He was also part of the 4x100 medley and 4x100 freestyle teams that won silver medals. It was an exact repeat performance for Popov in Atlanta in 1996, where he won the same medals in the same four events, in the process becoming the first male swimmer since Johnny Weissmuller to repeat as champion in the 50m freestyle and 100m freestyle.
In Sydney, Popov faltered and could only manage a silver medal in the 100m freestyle. He tried going for Olympic glory one last time in Athens, but at age 33 failed to qualify for the finals in any of his events.
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