Romania has a longstanding tradition in rowing, having won no fewer than 10 gold medals in the history of the Olympic Games. Eight of these were won by Romania’s canoeists, including the likes of Leon Rotman and Ivan Patzaichin, who made history in world competitions. The latest of the golden generation of canoeists is Florin Popescu; he and Mitica Pricop walked away with gold from the men's C2 1000 meter race of the Olympic Games in Sydney in the year 2000, after an absence of 16 years. As a coincidence, the previous title had been obtained in the same race in Los Angeles 1984 by Ivan Patzaichin and Toma Simionov.
Florin Popescu was born on August 30th 1974 in Olt County, southern Romania. Together with Mitica Pricop he clinched gold in the 500 meter race and bronze in the 1000 meter event at the European Championships in Zagreb in 1999. After the victory in Sydney, the two athletes won the gold medal in the 1000 and 500 meter races of the European Championships in Milan in 2001.
A year later, Pricop was replaced by Silviu Simiocencu, and the Romanian boat compelled international recognition in the competitions of 2002 and 2003, when they even won the world title in the 1000 meter race. Unfortunately, in Athens 2004, the Romanian boat went only fourth, in the races of 500 and 1000 meters.
After Athens, Popescu took a break from competitions, but a year later he joined Romania's four, which became the gold medalists at the European Championships in Poznan in the 1000 meter race. And that was the last great performance in the career of Florin Popescu who is now coaching Romania's Olympic canoe team. (bill)