Voyevoda is well known in Russia, having won a silver medal at the 2006 Olympics and a bronze in 2010. This year, the Russian team is tipped for gold.
Voyevoda was born in Sochi, where the Winter Olympics are being held, and still lives and trains in his home town. “The Sochi Games are close to the heart of all Russian athletes because they are being held in our country”, he said. “But I feel this even more strongly because I grew up here. This is my city.”
With immense biceps and upper body strength, Voyevoda looks as if he might struggle to squeeze into a bobsleigh which is only 67 centimetres wide. His role in the team is to stop the bobsleigh, a job which requires enormous strength.
A background in professional arm wrestling explains Voyevoda’s physique. Three times World Champion, he will be returning to the sport after the Olympics. He puts his strength down to the country life he had as a child. “I grew up in the mountains, and I would always climb trees with the other children,” he told the Moscow Times. “I was the fastest of the little tree-climbing monkeys. That is how I became strong.”
Weighing in at 115 kilogrammes, Voyevoda is affectionately known as the Green Giant. For the past two years, he has eaten mostly raw vegan food. As one of the Ambassadors for the Games, he describes his role as promoting sport, but also encouraging people to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
The Winter Olympics run until 23 February 2014. Alexei Voyevoda and the Russian bobsleigh team will begin competing on 16 February.