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First Soviet Olympic Champion Nina Ponomareva buried near Moscow

September 26, 14:27 UTC+3 MYTISHSCHI
The legendary sportswoman won the first Olympic gold medal for the Soviet Union in 1952 in Helsinki
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© ITAR-TASS

MYTISHSCHI /Moscow Region/, September 26. /TASS/. Remains of Nina Ponomareva, the first Soviet Olympic champion who passed away on August 19 at age of 87, were laid to rest on Monday at the Federal Military Memorial Cemetery in Moscow Region’s town of Mytishchi.

Ponomareva became the first Russian athlete to be buried at the military cemetery and her funeral was attended today by Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai Pankov, Olympic champions, coaches and many other titled athletes.

Ponomareva can be compared with Gagarin

Two-time Olympic Champion Svetlana Khorkina said on Monday that Nina Ponomareva was a pioneer for the Russian sports and can be compared with world’s first man in space Yury Gagarin.

Remains of Ponomareva, who passed away on August 19 at age of 87, were laid to rest on Monday at the Federal Military Memorial Cemetery in Moscow Region’s town of Mytishchi.

"Personally for me, Nina Apollonovna is an example of honor and valor and she was a legend because it is always hard to be the first," Khorkina said. "I would like to express my gratitude to her for everything she had done."

"Traditions will continue and next generations of athletes will be winning medals glorifying our country," she said. "We will be treasuring the legendary names since Ponomareva is in fact the Gagarin in sports, she is our pioneer."

She 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.

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