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20 Jul 1952
Helsinki 1952

Romashkova leads Soviet sweep of the women's discus

The Soviet Union would go on to become one of the world's sporting superpowers, but Helsinki 1952 represented its Olympic debut. From the off, it was clear that they would do well. While the Soviet flag may have been an unfamiliar one in Olympic terms many of the athletes who competed under it were already established stars.

Nina Romashkova had taken up the discus when she was just 18 but immediately showed huge natural ability. She entered her first major competition in 1948, and a year later was ranked third in the USSR. Two years later, she won the national title, a feat she would repeat on a further seven occasions.

Her finest hour, though, came in Helsinki. The women's discus was one of the first events of the track and field programme, and Romashkova qualified easily for the final. She was in second place after the first round, but then, with her second throw shattered the Olympic record by more than three metres. She threw even further in the third round, and ended up beating the field by more than four metres.

It was the Soviet Union's first gold medal, and they underlined their arrival on the Olympic stage by ensuring a clean sweep of the podium. Shortly after the Games, Romashkova confirmed her dominance of the discus by setting a new world record.

Four years later in Melbourne she took bronze, before returning to the top of the podium with another dominant victory in Rome in 1960. She retired from the sport after finishing 11th in the 1964 Games in Tokyo, which was no mean feat for an athlete who was by then 35.

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