Swimming: Olympic champion stabbed in street

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The Independent Online
Alexander Popov, the only man to retain the Olympic 50 and 100 metres freestyle titles, underwent an emergency operation yesterday after being stabbed on a street in south-west Moscow.

However, the 24-year-old said in a television interview that his life was in no danger and he promised he would be back in the pool shortly. "There's no need to worry. We're going to be walking soon - and swimming." he insisted cheerfully from his bed in the intensive care ward of Hospital No 31 in the Russian capital.

A senior member of the medical team said in another television interview: "We hope that developments after the operation will be normal. We have every reason to believe so."

Itar-Tass news agency quoted police as saying that Popov, who trains in Australia, was stabbed in the abdomen at about 11 p.m. on Saturday after becoming involved in an argument with a group of roadside watermelon sellers.

The head of the Russian swimming federation, Gennady Aleshin, said the wound had affected a lung and Popov's kidneys. No arrests were made and police were still investigating the incident.

Tass said that the Russian Prime Minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin, had expressed outrage at the attack and had ordered the health authorities to ensure the double Olympic champion was given the best possible treatment.