MOSCOW, August 19. /TASS/. The USSR’s first Olympic champion, discus thrower Nina Ponomareva has died at the age of 87, Dmitry Shlyakhtin, the President of the All-Russia Athletic Federation (ARAF), has informed TASS.
"We are all very saddened to learn that Nina Ponomareva has died today," Shlyakhtin said. "Funeral services will be held on Monday. Preparations are being overseen by the CSKA sports society, and the ARAF will provide all necessary assistance, as well."
Ponomareva was born on April 27, 1929, in the Urals’ Sverdlovsk region. She took up a great interest in sports as a university student. At first, she went in for running, but afterwards become a discus thrower. Ponomareva first became the Soviet Union’s national champion in 1951, winning the title seven more times later on.
The legendary sportswoman won the first Olympic gold medal for the Soviet Union in 1952 in Helsinki. After her triumph, the athlete was dubbed "the iron lady" by the foreign media. She finished third at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, held back by an injury that prevented her from repeating her previous success. However, the Soviet athlete became a two-time Olympic champion at the 1960 Games in Rome.
Nina Ponomareva finished 11th at her fourth Olympic Games in Tokyo. Finally, in 1966 she wrapped up her athletic career and began working as a coach in Kiev. Ponomareva had lived in Russia since 1998.