Popovici to star at Otopeni European Short Course. © Getty Images

This week, from 5th to 10th December, the Romanian city of Otopeni will host a new edition of the European Short Course Swimming Championships (25m), with the Romanian David Popovici as the main protagonist. 

It will be the first time that Romania will host such an important swimming event, with a total of 42 finals, including the mixed 4x50 freestyle and the 4x50 freestyle. 

At the age of 19, he already has two world and three continental gold medals to his name and is waiting in Paris to shine at the Olympics for the first time.

'King David', or 'The Little Magician' as he is known in his country, was only 16 when he competed at the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games. He finished fourth in the 200m freestyle, just two hundredths of a second behind Brazilian bronze medallist Fernando Scheffer, and seventh in the 100m freestyle.

He won gold in the 200m freestyle at the European Short Course Championships in Kazan, Russia, two years ago and promises to put on a show in front of the Romanian crowd. They will all be there to support the current world record holder in the 100 freestyle, who is coming off a disappointing performance at last summer's World Championships in Fukuoka (fourth in the 200 freestyle and sixth in the 100 freestyle). "The way I see it, I had two options: be sad or angry that I didn't win, or try to learn why I didn't win," Oppovici told European Aquatics.

David Popovici wants to shine at home. © Getty Images
David Popovici wants to shine at home. © Getty Images

"The most important thing is to put on a show so that hopefully more kids will see it and be inspired. I remember when I was 12 years old and I met Danas Rapšys and Katinka Hosszu; they came to an international championship in Romania and seeing them there helped to motivate me. If kids can see me like that, that's the best thing I can do for them," added the Romanian.

The event will be held in Otopeni, a city on the northern outskirts of Bucharest, which is known for its international airport. "We have been training harder and putting in a lot of effort for this event, which makes me very excited. I've never been to a short course competition with big ambitions, but I think this one will be up there. I feel good, the European Short Course will be interesting, and I'm sure that we'll do our best to be good hosts and put on a show," he added. 

President of the Romanian Aquatics and Modern Pentathlon Federation, Camelia Potec, echoed these sentiments ahead of what she expects to be a "truly memorable event". "We are thrilled to be hosting the biggest event in the swimming calendar this year. I am grateful to have the opportunity to welcome dear athletes, coaches and team members, friends and supporters from all over Europe to be an inspiration to all those who love our sport," she said.

Potec is one of the greatest Romanian swimmers of all time, with a gold medal in the 200 freestyle at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and four European gold medals to his name.