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Alexei Nemov
[[File:
Немов, Алексей
|255px]]
Personal information
Full name: Alexei Yurievich Nemov
Country Represented:  Russia
Date of birth: 28 May 1976 (1976-05-28) (age 33)
Place of birth: Barashevo, Mordovia
Hometown: Tolyatti
Height: 173 centimetres (5 ft 8 in)
Discipline: Men's artistic gymnastics
Club: Trade Union
Head coach(es): Evgeny Nikolko
Assistant coach(es): A. Shestakova

Alexei Yurievich Nemov (Russian: Алексей Юрьевич Немов; born 28 May 1976 in Barashevo, Mordovia) is a gymnast from Russia and one of the most medaled gymnasts, male or female, of all time. He has won 12 Olympic medals, including more Olympic bronze medals (six) than any other athlete. Nemov's sense of showmanship and his difficult routines have won him many fans. He currently lives in his hometown of Tolyatti with his wife Galina, and his son Alexei.

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Early life

Alexei Nemov grew up in Tolyatti on the Volga River. His father left him and his mother when Nemov was just a baby, and Nemov has never seen him since. Alexei started gymnastics at age five.

Gymnastics career

As a 16-year-old he made his debut at the 1993 World Championships, placing fifth on floor. 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 12th overall. He won his first major all-around title at the Goodwill Games in Saint Petersburg, beating his 2nd-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 promising initial international success, in 1995 he 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, crashed into the bar on another release move, 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 a disastrous showing during the qualifying round--finishing in 11th place. Nemov was in 96th 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 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, 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. He ruined his chances for gold, however, when he botched his middle tumbling run on the final event. He finished in second by a narrow margin.

Nemov's Olympic success and newfound worldwide fame did not last. Over the next several years, he baffled audiences with his uninspired, inconsistent performances in major international competition. He continually battled recurring shoulder injuries, boredom, and poor fitness level. He failed to win a major all-around title for nearly four years, and many doubted his chances for Olympic gold at the Sydney Olympics. He surprised everyone when he arrived at the Olympics doing the best gymnastics of his career, and once again took home six medals. This time, he won the all-around title, finally winning the first major championship of his career.

Although never regaining his form of 2000, 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 in Athens, and placed him in the middle of a judging controversy. After performing a routine with six release skills in the high bar finals (including four in a row), the judges posted a score of 9.725, placing him in third with several athletes still to compete. The crowd erupted in a chorus of boos and cheers upon seeing the results and interrupted the competition for nearly 15 minutes. The judges felt the pressure of the crowd, reevaluated the routine, and increased his score to a 9.762, which still placed him out of the medals. The crowd continued their raucous protest, subsiding only after Nemov stepped up to the podium and pleaded with his supporters to quiet down for the sake of the other athletes. This scandal was finally credited as one of the last straws after several judging controversies in the competition, and fueled a massive reconstruction of the scoring system which was implemented in 2006. Nemov rarely criticised the judges or the situation. The Russian Olympic Committee later awarded Nemov $40,000 in recognition of his class and character, and he retired from gymnastics soon after.

References

External links

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