05 April 2011

Alexei Nemov

I've been pretty good about leaving Russia out of this blog.  I feel that information on Russia is far easier to find than countries like Macedonia, so I've tried to focus more on the smaller and less well known countries.  But today I feel like honoring Russia by having one of their own be the start of my Male Gymnasts week.

I was very seriously enamored with Russia when the 2000 Olympics occurred.  I am a huge fan of gymnastics and barely miss a moment during the Olympics, which is essentially the only time the sport is aired on television.  I loved Alexei Nemov.  Not only is he a handsome Ruski, but he was a phenomenal gymnast.  The post-Soviet years were good to Russia and former satellites in gymnastics, probably because they still had the fruits of their Communist "take over the world through sport" programs.  Nemov had the strength, the beautiful lines, and unlike a lot of gymnasts today, could actually do a mean pommel horse routine.  His nickname was "Sexy Lexi" because he would always take off his shirt at exhibitions and soft competitions.  He was a showboat in that respect, but steely and Russian in competition.  He became quite a celebrity in Russia and even had his own gymnastics show, which says something about Russia's relationship with gymnastics.

He has 12 Olympic medals to his name, including a gold for All-Around at Sydney in 2000 (there are 6 parts with the whole competition, a very fun watch).  He wasn't known for being the most consistent gymnast––much like what haunted Khorkina in Sydney––but when he hit it, he hit it right.  The low score on that routine caused quite a controversy and disrupted the whole competition.  You know you're good when people are so outraged at a low score that they stop the entire competition.  He was beautiful to watch even in Atlanta in 1996.  The embedded video below, though silent, is a good compilation of his performances.