Marina Anissina must have felt like a lover scorned when her long-time partner Ilya Averbukh fell in love with a rival skater and decided to skate competitively with her instead.
The two had won world titles together, but when her partner’s surprise career move came about Anissina knew her strategy needed drastic change if she was to achieve her aim of Olympic glory.
She moved to France and began training with French skater Gwendal Peizerat in 1993. In the following year she was granted French citizenship.
The move paved the way for France to celebrate their first ice dance gold. They finished a highly creditable third behind the legendary pairing of Oksana Grischuk and Yevgeny Platov at theNagano Games in 1998.
World and European championships followed for the duo but they were considered joint favourites for gold at the Salt Lake Ice Center.
The French pair led the field after the compulsory and free dance sections and then it was down to the free dance, where skaters give full vent to their creative powers like Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean had done so mesmerisingly in Sarajevo 18 years earlier with the Bolero.
Dancing to music interspersed with sections of Martin Luther King’s rousing I Have a Dream speech, the pair got the nod of the majority of judges ahead of Lobacheva and Averbukh to secure a memorable gold.
Anissina and Peizerat retired from competition the following year but pursued lucrative careers on the exhibitions and show circuit around the world.