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Gymnastics Legend launches Special Olympics event

Alexey Nemov launches the first Laureus Sport for Good Foundation project in Russia – the Special Olympics Unified Sports Programme

Russian Hero

MOSCOW, August 29, 2012  – Excited youngsters welcomed legendary Russian Olympic gymnast Alexey Nemov to the Potapovskiy Sport Complex in Moscow, as he officially launched the first Laureus Sport for Good Foundation project in Russia – the ‘Special Olympics Unified Sports Programme’, delivered in partnership with Special Olympics Russia. The project unites people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same teams for training and competition.

This initiative has been shown to contribute significantly to breaking down barriers between people with and without intellectual disability, both on and off the playing field.  It was inspired by the simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding.

Alexey Nemov said: “It was very emotional and a great honor for me to come and meet all these wonderful children, many of whom are fighting against considerable difficulties. I am so proud to be a member of the Laureus Academy and to be here to open this first Laureus-supported project in Russia. I hope it will be the first of many.”

From gymnastics to football

From gymnastics to football! Alexey Nemov tests his soccer skills

Alexey, a member of the Laureus World Sports Academy, won 12 Olympic medals in his career and was immensely popular wherever and whenever he performed. The reception he received from the athletes was as warm and heartfelt as those from his years of competition at the highest level and he was clearly moved. Alexey spent time watching the Athletes and Partners at the Unified Sports Program playing games in a variety of sports, including basketball, floorball, badminton and football. Together with these talented young people, he mastered the technique of scoring the goal and the basket and with the ease of the real Olympian caught the gist of a new game – floorball.

2012 Olympic Champions

Daria Korobova shows off her Olympic Gold Medal from London 2012

The event was also attended by the Olympic champions-2012 in the Synchronous swimming Elvira Khasyanova, Daria Korobova and Angelica Timanina. Both coaches and students could not take their eyes off the gold medals of the London Olympiad. Our charming Olympians answered multiple questions posed by the athletes and advised them on their road to the victory.         

Showcase of Sport

Then with the real sport fervor they joined the Special Olympics athletes in training – Elvira turned football striker, Daria and Angelica took up Badminton.

Marina Shalaeva, a member of the Special Olympics Russia National Badminton team: “It was great to watch our champions ‘to flare up’ and play with us so intently. They have good potential in this sport, but for now I outplayed them”.


Lyudmila Knyazeva, Special Olympics Russia National Director summed up the event: “It was the first meeting within the Project and we hope for the continuous cooperation with the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. Thanks to it Special Olympics athletes and partners in Murmansk, Saratov, Tomsk, Vladimir regions, Moscow and Perm territory not only train and play together but develop strong friendship ties going well beyond sport venues”.