Simply put, Boris Popov went from being an outstanding water polo player to an extraordinary coach whose teams dominated world water polo for over a decade. Due to his success as a coach for the Junior Team in USSR, he was selected to lead the USSR National Senior Team. There he lead the team to gold medals in the Olympics, European Championships, World Championships, and World Cup competitions. He remains active in water polo still to this day developing children’s water polo in the Leningrad region.
Boris as a player in 1964 USSR Tokyo; Photo Courtesy: Boris Popov
FOR THE RECORD: RUSSIAN WATER POLO COACH: 1973-2008, 2011 to the present day ; NATIONAL TEAM COACH: 1978-1993, 1997-1999, 2007-2008; 1980 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold; 1988 OLYMPIC GAMES: bronze; 1982 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold; 1986 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: bronze; 1981 WORLD CUP: gold; 1983 WORLD CUP: gold; 1987 WORLD CUP: silver; 1986 GOODWILL GAMES: gold; 1998 GOODWILL GAMES: gold; 1990 GOODWILL GAMES: silver; 1963, 1965 University games: silver; 1970, 1985 University Games: gold; 1981 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: silver; 1983 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold; 1985 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold; 1987 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold; 1991 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: bronze; 1997 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: bronze; 1964 OLYMPIC GAMES: player-bronze; 1966 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: player-gold
About Boris Popov
Popov began his playing career in Moscow at about age 14, for “CSK” Moscow. He was part of the 1964 USSR Olympic Team when they won the bronze medal behind water polo powerhouses Yugoslavia and Hungary. He was also part of the team that won the gold at the 1966 European Championships.
Popov played for “MGU” Moscow from 1960 through 1973, when they won the European Championship Cup. He then gave up his water polo career as a player and began coaching for Burevestnik, Moscow. He became Coach of the Junior Team, USSR, in 1974 and the boys brought home gold in 1975 and 1978 at the European Championships.
Photo Courtesy: Boris Popov
The Soviet Olympic Team won the 1972 gold medal in Munich, but at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games, the team placed a disappointing eighth. And for the next several years failed to reach the podium at all major international tournaments.
Popov’s success with the Junior Team was noticed and in 1979 he was selected to lead the U.S.S.R. National Senior Team. With the core of players he developed at the Junior level, like Hall of Famers, Evgeny Sharanov, and veterans Aleksei Barkalov and Aleksandr Kabanov, Popov led his team to the gold medal in their hometown of Moscow, at the 1980 Summer Olympics.
1980 Russian Olympic Team; Photo Courtesy: Boris Popov
The Soviet team did not lose a game during the entire Olympic tournament at the 1980 Games. They went undefeated again at the II FINA World Cup in Long Beach, California in 1981. Won gold again at the 1982 FINA World Championship in Guayaquil and again at the 1983 FINA World Cup in Malibu, California. Unfortunately, the world never got to see what the Soviets could do at the Los Angeles Olympic Games due to the Soviet Block’s retaliatory boycott in 1984. However, after the 1984 Olympic Games concluded, the Soviets won the gold at a tournament in Havana, Cuba that featured the nations who boycotted the LA Games.
Because the Soviets, Hungarians and other nations had boycotted the LA Games, they were banned by FINA from the 1985 World Cup – but the Soviet success continued by winning the gold medal at the European Championships in 1985 and 1987, and at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, the team won bronze. After winning the 1989 European Championships, the team won bronze at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona.
Photo Courtesy: Boris Popov
In the years 1993 and 1994, Popov left Russia and went to Geece and his former player and assistant coach, Aleksandr Kabanov took over the team. But after the Russians finished a disappointing fifth in the 1996 Atlanta Games, Popov was back in charge of the Soviet team and directed with getting the team ready for Sydney 2000. The team placed fourth in the 1999 FINA World Cup, in Sydney, Australia.
After so much success, the failure to reach the podium in 1999 and 2000 was a major disappointment and the Russian Federation returned the reigns of the team once again to Kabanov. But with poor results, Popov was back in charge by 2006 until he retired in 2008.
It must be said that after the break up of the Soviet Union, there was a great deal of social and economic problems that had a devastating effect on the fortunes of Russian water polo. They are just now recovering.
Photo Courtesy: Boris Popov
Currently, Boris Popov is the Vice President of the Russian Water Polo Federation. He is living in the city of Kirishi and devoting his time to the development of children’s water polo in the Leningrad region.
The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) Induction Ceremony is shaping up to be a star-studded weekend with multiple events spread out over three days in beautiful Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Make your plans now to attend the weekend of May 17-19, 2019! ISHOF Members can purchase the Weekend Package and Save! Can’t attend the event? Make a donation to ISHOF to support our honorees.
Host Hotel: Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa
Four and a half star upscale retreat with private beach access, two pools, four restaurants, full service spa and oceanside bar. Location of the Saturday evening induction ceremony. ¼ mile south of the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
3030 Holiday Drive, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33316 (954) 525-4000