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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

China Takes 4 Golds, but Popov Steals Show

ROME -- With four gold medals and a world record, it was China's day again in the swimming and diving arena.


Yet a Russian with an elegant stroke and an air of invincibility stole the show at the World Championships.


As far as Alex Popov was concerned he is in complete control of his event, having added the world title to his Olympic championship and world record. "Even if I don't feel good I just can't lose it," he said Wednesday. "


Popov, world record holder for swimming's most prestigious event, the men's 100 meters, did not need to go anywhere near the 48.21 he swam at Monte Carlo in June to beat Matt Biondi's 6-year-old world mark.


To win the world title, he swam almost leisurely to clock 49.12 and no one this year has even swum faster than that.


"I will be in better shape in Atlanta, I promise," Popov said, looking ahead to the defense of his Olympic title.


While Tan Shuping won China's fourth diving gold from the women's 3-meter springboard, China's swimmers won all three women's titles in the pool with the 400-meter freestyle relay team breaking the world record. He Cihong won the 100 backstroke and Yang Aihua romped to victory in the 400 freestyle from unfavored lane one.


In the freestyle relay, Le Jingyi, Shan Ying, Le Ying and Lu Bin swam 3 minutes 37.91 seconds to slice 1.55 off the 2-year-old mark set by the United States at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.