A 17-year-old Romanian swimmer broke César Cielo’s world record in the 100-meter freestyle, which had been in force since 2009. This is David Popovici, who surpassed the Brazilian’s mark by five hundredths after completing the race in 46.86 and became the fastest history fast.
Considered a swimming phenomenon, the Romanian achieved the feat in the final of the European Championships in Rome. It was even in the same city and in the same gym, the Foro Itálico, where Cielo recorded, 13 years ago, the time that until then had guaranteed him the race record. The Brazilian is still the record holder in the 50 meters freestyle.
At the time, Popovici was just four years old and just starting swimming in Bucharest, the capital of Romania. Today, the prodigy beat the Brazilian Olympic medalist and emerged as one of the favorites for the 2024 Olympic Games.
The Romanian said he got into the sport after his parents and a doctor encouraged him to swim as a form of rehabilitation. Popovic had a bad back due to the curvature of his spine. About six years after he started swimming, he broke the first national record.
“Since then, I’ve been addicted to the feeling of being on the top of the podium,” he told the International Swimming Federation (FINA).
The triumph at the European Championship follows on from the Romanian’s achievements this year. At the World Swimming Championships, held between June and July in Budapest, Popovic had already won gold in the 100 and 200 meters freestyle.
The Romanian made his Olympic Games debut last year at Tokyo-20. In the event, he finished seventh in the 100 meters, with a time of 47.88, just over a second above the mark he reached yesterday (13). Popovic also participated in the 200 meters freestyle, finishing fourth.
After his participation in the Games, he even received offers to study at universities in the United States, but he declined to continue his country. Last year, he was elected by the association of European Olympic Committees the best young summer sports athlete on the continent.
The young man usually trains for five hours a day and swims between four and seven kilometers, depending on his training schedule.