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Two-time Soviet Olympic pairs champion dies

Ludmila Belousova, Oleg Protopopov

FILE In this file photo taken on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 1968, Russia’s husband-wife team of Ludmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov perform in Grenoble, France, while en route to an Olympic pairs figure skating title. Russian news reports say Ludmila Belousova, a two-time Olympic champion in pairs figure skating, has died. She was 81, it was reported on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. (AP Photo, file)


Lyudmila Belousova, who with her husband began the Soviet Union’s Olympic pairs dominance, died at age 81, according to Russian media.

“It is a big loss, for me especially, as I spent nearly half of my life in a common changing room with her and [pairs partner and husband] Oleg [Protopopov],” Russian coach Alexei Mishin said Friday, according to TASS news agency. “They dedicated their entire lives to their profession, the cause they have been serving -- figure skating.”

Belousova and Protopopov, who is now 85, won Olympic pairs titles in 1964 and 1968, the first two of 12 straight gold medals for Soviet or Russian pairs.

They had been married for six years before winning their first Olympic title in Innsbruck.

They also won four straight world titles from 1965 through 1968. Plus, they made the world podium eight straight years, a record for any discipline since World War II.

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