Alexei Yurievich Nemov (Russian: Алексей Юрьевич Немов; born 28 May 1976 in Barashevo, Mordovia) is a former artistic gymnast from Russia and one of the most celebrated gymnasts of all time. During his career, he won five world championships, three European championships and twelve Olympic medals.
|Full name||Alexei Yurievich Nemov|
|Born||28 May 1976|
Barashevo, Mordovian ASSR, Soviet Union
|Height||173 cm (5 ft 8 in)|
|Discipline||Men's artistic gymnastics|
|Years on national team||1992–2004 (RUS)|
|Head coach(es)||Evgeny Nikolko|
|Assistant coach(es)||A. Shestakova|
Nemov made his debut at the 1993 World Championships at the age of sixteen, placing fifth in the floor event. The following year, he stamped himself as a true all-around contender, winning his qualifying session at the Worlds. He later faltered and dropped to twelfth overall. He won his first major all-around title at the Goodwill Games in Saint-Petersburg, beating his second-place teammate and World Silver Medalist Aleksei Voropaev by over one point. Nemov's style of gymnastics was considered very well-rounded; he had complex acrobatics, a unique style, and elegance when he performed.
Despite his initial promising success internationally, by 1995 Nemov had gained a reputation for having inconsistent performances. In the all-around at the 1995 European Cup, Nemov, then 19, was the leader after five events and had put up the high score on three events. When he came to high bar, he only needed an 8.75 to win the title. He missed his two major release moves and crashed into the bar on another, botched a required element, and stopped in the middle of his routine. He scored a 7.35 and dropped to ninth overall.
A few months later, Nemov competed in the World Championships in Sabae, Japan. The Russian team had an extremely poor showing during the qualifying round, finishing in 11th place, with Nemov in 96th position all-around. The team rebounded in the finals to finish 4th overall (still a disappointment since it marked the first time in decades that the Russians failed to medal in the team competition), while Nemov put up the highest optional score of all the competitors. His compulsory round ranking prevented him from qualifying to the all-around finals, however.
At the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Nemov seemed poised to win the gold. Nemov won six medals (two gold, one silver, and three bronze). He performed solidly in the all-around, battling World Champion Li Xiaoshuang every step of the way. Nemov ruined his chances for gold, however, when he botched his middle tumbling run in the final event, finishing second by a narrow margin.
While many questioned Nemov's dedication and fitness level, he continued to excel. Several shoulder injuries, as well as his marriage and the birth of his first son, along with perceived inconsistencies in character were cited as evidence of weak gymnastics prior to the 2000 Sydney Olympics. This led to increased concerns about Aleksei's lack of a major title. However, as a high-performance athlete, Nemov went into the 2000 Olympics in the best shape of his life – having never seen his newborn son (born in September 2000), and was able to take home to his son what he called a golden rattle, in reality an all-around gold medal. Except for still rings, he had won at least one Olympic medal in every other discipline of men's gymnastics by the end of the Sydney games.
2004 Olympics controversy and rule changeEdit
Although injury took its toll, Nemov competed through to the 2004 Athens Olympics, mainly as an anchor for the fledgling Russian team. Though unable to defend his all-around title, Nemov's performances brought the house down on high bar in Athens and placed him in the middle of a judging controversy. After performing a routine with six release skills in the high bar event final (including four in a row – three variations of Tkatchev releases and a Gienger), but also took a step on landing which was a two tenths deduction. The judges posted a score of 9.725, placing him in third position with several athletes still to compete. The crowd became unruly on seeing the results and interrupted the competition for almost fifteen minutes, and only calmed down after Nemov gestured to do so. Influenced by the crowd's fierce reaction, the judges reevaluated the routine and increased Nemov's score to 9.762, but this did not improve his placement and he finished without a medal.
This scandal was just the latest of several judging disputes in the competition, such as the scoring controversy involving Korean gymnast Yang Tae-Young, and prompted a major reconstruction of the gymnastics scoring system, which was implemented in 2006. The rule changes are credited as having encouraged more acrobatic activity and increasing difficulties on the high bar apparatus seen in later competitions. The Russian Olympic Committee later awarded Nemov $40,000 in recognition of his character, and he retired from gymnastics soon after.
Nemov currently lives in his hometown of Tolyatti with his wife Galina and his son Alexei.
- Emma John (7 August 2012). "London 2012: Gymnastic gold for true flying Dutchman Epke Zonderland". Guardian. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
- "Russian Olympic Committee will award gymnast Alexei Nemov for performance in Athens Olympics". Pravda. 11 September 2004.