At the age of 20, swimmer Vladimir Salnikov became an undisputed hero of the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Although due to the U.S boycott - called in protest at the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan - in the absence of his main rivals from the US team, including 1976 Montreal Olympic double champion, Brian Goodell, Salnikov's results speak for themselves. He won three gold medals, for 800 meters, 1,500 meters and the 4х200 meters freestyle relay. Salnikov broke the world record for his favorite 1,500 meters race, for the first time ever completing it in less than 15 minutes, at 14.58,27.
"It was my dream to break the world record, though I was not in the best of moods. I had been waiting to meet American athletes for so long," Salnikov recalls. "There was a moment during that race when I decided that there would be no record: somewhere around 1,100–1,200 meters I felt completely exhausted, all I could hope for was just to win the race. But I told myself: it's now or never. And I pushed forward even harder."