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SOCHI, Russia - Alexander Popov believes the Sochi Olympics will go down as a landmark event for Russia, and he hopes it will change outside impressions of his homeland.

The retired swimming champion and International Olympic Committee member, noting the sometimes strained relations between Russia and the West, says he hopes "the image of the games will help change that."

Related: Latest news from Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics

He believes Westerners who visited Sochi will head home with a different impression of the former Cold War rival.

Popov also expects short track to boom in popularity in Russia thanks to Viktor Ahn.

Popov was on hand for the final night of short track, when the South Korean-turned-Russian Ahn boosted his haul to three golds and a bronze.