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Personal experience

Olympus in Norilsk

A successful athlete himself, Aleksei Nurkenov has raised many champions. He became an entrepreneur with the sole purpose of creating comfortable conditions for the kids to train. He found support through the “World of New Opportunities” program.
The speaker in this interview is a real star. His name is Aleksei Nurkenov, he is 43 years old and a native of Norilsk. Master of Sports of International Class in Karate, International Karate Judge, Coach of the Russian National Team, Director of Olympus Club, Director of Norilsk Sports Support Foundation.

– How did you organize the Olympus Sports Center and the Foundation?

- The idea of creating the Olympus Center came naturally. When I started training children, parents often brought their ten-year-olds to school and said: “We want our boy to be a champion like you.” I realized that it was unlikely that I would be able to make anything out of a 10-year-old: it was very difficult.

So, the main idea for the center was to enroll 4–5-year-olds to foster their love for sports from early childhood. By the time we enroll athletes for the school, i.e. by the age of ten, kids already can and are willing to demonstrate certain athletic capacity. Then they are enrolled in the sports school where they keep up with karate until their 11th grade year.

The Foundation was established for us to officially collect annual dues and take the kids to competitions. That said, the training is free of charge.
Alexey Nurkenov, a World Class Athlete in Karate and a native of Norilsk. Director of the Olympus Sports Club.

More than just a sports school

– How has the Center evolved?

– Children showed very good results: we had 24 prizewinners at the Russian Championship in one year. The City Administration provided us with a large building of 1,660 square meters, a two-story former children's café.

It wasn't in the best condition. The roof had been leaking for many years, so it was decided to repair it first. The sewerage and electric system were completely renovated, new pipes were fitted and Euro windows were installed. Everything was dismantled down to the concrete, rebuilt, and remodeled.
RUB 20 mln
was spent on school repairs
The next year, the heating was fixed because it was 11℃ in the building in winter. Parents had their fur coats and mittens on while waiting for their children in the lobby. Now, having already seen the amount of work involved, I don't even know whether I would have dared to do such an experiment. Nevertheless, we made one of the best centers for children in Norilsk. In terms of the repairs quality, the level of equipment and all other parameters.
– What can one do in the Olympus now?

– There are eight halls at the center, and they are not just for martial arts. For example, there is a dancing room. Now we are in the process of establishing a children's photo school and a photo studio called “Smena” (Change), also for children, to teach them how to take pictures with their phones and make reels. There are very few photo studios in our city, not to be compared with Moscow and St. Petersburg. By the way, we are developing this project with Nornickel's support.

Children's classes are paid and free of charge. Along with sports and dancing, there is a school prep program, a café, and a massage parlor. Now we are developing a recreation area: we are adding a sauna, a phyto barrel, as well as rooms for athletes who come here for competitions.

Take and do it!

– You participated in Nornickel’s program “A World of New Opportunities”. How did the program help you?

– I would like to thank Nornickel which supported us from the very beginning. When we got the building and it required urgent repairs, the plant helped us a lot with materials: it provided sand, cement, pipes.

In terms of funding, we were able to get several grants. An outdoor sports ground near the Center became the most expensive project at almost RUB 5 mln. It's in great demand: kids play soccer and basketball there.

The company helped us to open a martial arts and boxing hall which I believe to be the best in the Krasnoyarsk Territory, as well as a dancing hall. The accelerator program resulted in an interest-free loan of RUB 3.5 mln, which we used to refurbish the building.

– What can you advise to those who are eager to start their own business?

– Don't expect to be approved and have your contribution appreciated so as to avoid disappointment. I really wanted to challenge myself. I managed to do it. So, if you really desire something, don't be afraid, even if you don't have any money. First you have an idea, and then the funds come up for it. If you decide to do it, take and do it!

Photos by Aleksei Nurkenov
March, 2023
Social Norilsk Personal experience Practice