Ivan Patzaichin (born November 26, 1949), famous Romanian flatwater sprint canoer. Competing in five Summer Olympics, he won seven medals, more than any other competitor in the history of the canoeing events.
He was born at Mila 23, in the Danube Delta, and belongs to the ethnic group of Russian Lipovans (the Lipovans or Starovers are Russians who settled in Romania in the 18th century, being persecuted in Russia because of their religious beliefs). "I remember my childhood with great pleasure, I was very happy back then. [...] I liked to be on the lotca (specific Lipovan boat) – it wasn’t just hanging around, the boat was a necessity as well. The village was flooded every spring and autumn and the lotca was the only way of transportation. We even go to school by boat, there was a big one that pick us up, taking us to and from school, like a school bus".
He graduated the Institute of Physical Education and Sport in Bucharest in 1975 and joined Dinamo Bucharest Club. He won 25 times the National Championships, won also many gold medals at European or Balkanic Championsips. Between 1968 and 1984, Patzaichin won 22 medals at World Championships, including 9 golds, 4 silvers, and 9 bronzes. At the Summer Olympics, he won 4 golds (1968 - Mexico, 1972 - Munich, 1980 - Moscow, 1984 - Los Angeles), and 3 silvers. The 1972 Munich qualifying race at C1 1000m belongs now to the history of sport, Patzaichin qualified rowing more than 500m with a broken paddle, and then won the final!
When he retired, Patzaichin, known as "The Admiral", became a coach and is now head of the Romanian national team. His pupils have won over one hundred sprint canoe titles. He is general with a star (retired), and his club dedicated him a statue.