Chiseled features and good looks only added to the mystique of this veritable superstar. Had Michelangelo ever sculpted a male gymnast, Alexei Nemov would have been the perfect model.
At Atlanta 1996, he led Russia to its first Olympic team title. He also won the gold on vault, the all-around silver, and bronze medals on floor exercise, pommel horse and horizontal bar.
The 1990s owe much to an individual who combined a daring repertoire of skills with textbook technique and inimitable style. The guy had presence. He pointed his toes and fingers. Chiseled features and good looks only added to the mystique of this veritable superstar.
Alexie Nemov was born on May 28, 1976, in Barashevo, Mordovia (a federal subject of Russia). When he was in third grade, Alexei’s mother signed him up for gymnastics classes under Yevgeny Nikolko, who would coach him throughout the remainder of his prolific career.
Nemov’s first Olympics were memorable, to say the least. In Atlanta in 1996, he led Russia to its first Olympic team title. He also won the gold on vault, the all-around silver and bronze medals on three events: floor exercise, pommel horse and horizontal bar. Quite a haul for a 20-year-old.
Nemov really hit his stride four years later at the 2000 Sydney Games. He finally won the major all-around title so many had predicted he would. And as in Atlanta, he took home a total of six medals. In the gymnastics competition, he was the King of Sydney.
With as much success as Nemov had at the Olympics, it was in 2004 in Athens, when he finished out of the medals, where his contributions to the sport were even more amplified. After Nemov performed a high bar routine with six release moves, many in combination, and the seemingly unjustifiable low score of 9.725 was posted, the crowd erupted in whistles and booes. The protest continued, and after several more minutes, Nemov did something magnanimous.
He realized the uproar had delayed the next competitor, American Paul Hamm. Nemov remounted the podium and politely gestured for the crowd to settle down, which they finally did. Nemov finished fifth on high bar in Athens, but his thrilling routine was proof that the FIG needed to re-evaluate its scoring system. He retired later that year.
Nemov finished fifth on high bar in Athens, but his thrilling routine was proof that the FIG needed to re-evaluate its scoring system. Nemov retired later that year.
Nemov currently lives in Tolyatti with his wife, Galina, and son, Alexei, who was born Sept. 2, 2000. He’s a sought-after public speaker, an ambassador for the sport, and a member of the Laureus Foundation, which seeks to use sports as a tool for social change.
Alexei Nemov finished his career with a total of 13 World Championship medals—five gold. His cache of 12 Olympic medals—four of them gold—ties him with Japanese legend, Sawao Kato, as the third most medals for a male gymnast in Olympic history.
In 2017, Alexei Nemov was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.