In a country that prides itself on sporting success and where some of the greatest gymnasts were created, you have to be pretty special to stand out in Russia as a Gymnastics great.
Alexei Nemov’s career was more than just special. He is considered one of the icons of Russian gymnastics - still revered and respected in equal measure. Across a 10 year career, he won five World Championship titles, three European Championship titles and 12 Olympic medals (four golds, two silvers and six bronze).
Now a Laureus World Academy member, Nemov is clear about how sport has played an important part in his life and why that has led him to become part of the Laureus family.
“I was brought up by my mother, by herself,” he says. “Sport helped me grow up. I don’t know what I would have done without it. Sport helped me and that’s why I love working with Laureus, using sport they help others have opportunities that they might not ordinarily have.”
Still trim and strong, despite retiring more than 14 years ago, Nemov has visited Laureus-supported programmes in China, Germany and Russia and is open about how working with Laureus has helped him come to terms with retiring from elite sport.
“Giving up sport is difficult. Very difficult,” he admits. “You need a lot of support from your family and friends. It’s such a big change and it’s like you’re born again, you have to learn to do everything all over again. Working with Laureus has helped me do that.”
Recognising how sport can change lives, as it changed his, demonstrates that he’s doing just fine in learning how to survive post-retirement.