At six foot five and weighing in at a little under 120 kilos, Ivan Popov looks more like a swimmer or a boxer, than a super-heavyweight wrestler. But wrestling is what he does, and the first time Commonwealth Games gold medallist is mighty pleased.
“I am very happy to have won the gold, and to be representing Australia,” said the man who was born, lives and trains in Siberia, but wrestles for his adopted nation. The sport is in his blood though. His father Vladimir, watching from the stands because he hadn't been accredited, is a former World champion and Olympic bronze medallist. "I love India," Ivan says, "and I am very happy that I have won by biggest event."
The 24-year-old had a little trouble understanding an Australian journalist when she asked him if there was someone special he was wrestling for. But when he did understand, he pointed out to the stands and said, “I want to be like my father. He is the one who got me into the sport. If I get anywhere close to what he achieved, I will be very happy.”
So what next for the young Russo-Australian? “Who knows? Maybe you will be asking me the same questions again in London after two years,” he laughed before going in for the post event dope test.