Nina Ponomaryova, the first Olympic champion in the history of the USSR, gave an open lesson at the Moscow school

On Monday Nina Ponomaryova, a legendary Soviet/Russian discus thrower and a World Record Holder visited the students of  Moscow school No. 1454. In 1952, at the Helsinki Olympic Games Nina Ponomaryova became an Olympic Champion, setting a New Olympic Record and earning the first Olympic gold medal in the history of the USSR. At the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne Ponomaryova won the bronze medal. At the 1960 Summer Olympic Games in Rome Ponomaryova became an Olympic Champion for the second time.

The meeting with the titled athlete was held in the framework of the “The Olympic legend” project. It was organized by the Russian Olympic Committee and Visa company with the support of the Association of athletes of Russia.

Galina Gorokhova, the President of the Association of athletes of Russia and three-time Olympic fencing champion came to meet the children together with Nina Ponomaryova. The schoolchildren gave a warm reception to the honored guests. The guests were very pleased with their reception.

“To be honest, it’s been a long time since I’ve had such a touching interview. I am sincerely glad that such a project – “The Olympic legend” – exists. It allows the youngsters to get personally acquainted with the eminent athletes. It allows us, the native sports veterans, to share our memories with the younger generation and to tell them how we defended our country’s reputation and how we won our Olympic medals”, – she said.

Nina Ponomaryova started her career story with her early days. Those were the locust years during the Great Patriotic War. The students of the 5th through 11th grades listened carefully to her story and were very eager to know how the future Olympic champion started in sports overcoming the difficulties of war.

“I lived in the village of the Stavropol Territory, not far from Yessentuky. It was a very hard time. Men, from youngsters to elders, went to the front. Those hard times have made my generation and me personally strong, both physically strong and strong in spirit”, – recalled Ponomaryova.

Nina Ponomaryova confessed that since childhood she has been in good physical condition and that is how she got into sports. She was first noticed and invited to try her hand at… a cross-country contest. It was her running that started her career as a champion in track and field athletics. Then she was offered the Hammer Throw.

“To be honest, when they came to me with this request I was inclined to refuse. This sport is not very feminine, after all. But then they asked me about the Komsomol badge, that I was wearing on my breast. And I had no right to refuse. I had to perform at the regional contest, where I came in third and that’s how it all started. Then came the Stavropol district contests. Then they started to ask me to take part in the large-scale competitions in Rostov-on-Don. In the end I found myself at the first Olympic Games in the history of the USSR in Helsinki”, – recalled the titled athlete.

“It was great! For the first time we participated with the Olympic family. Everything was new. When I was going to the Olympics I was number three on my team, but I managed to outflank not only my compatriots but also the leading track and field athletes of the world. The Olympic stadium in Helsinki blared when I threw the discus. My throw of more than 50 m (51.2) seemed fantastic at that time. It was a victory!”

Nina Ponomaryova brought the schoolchildren not only a precious ‘bag’ of stories, but also brought her medals and awards. She showed them all with pride to the children.

The schoolchildren made a worthy reply. They prepared a concert program and heaped gifts on the celebrated athlete. They made the gifts with their own hands. One class sewed an elegant hat and the other class made a mask for the Venetian Carnival on the topic of the Olympics. She also received fluffy toys, a painting and many drawings as presents. In the end of the meeting a session of questions and answers was held.

In 1952 Nina Ponomaryova joined the USSR national team, which participated in the Helsinki Olympic Games for the first time in history. It is worth noting that, in the capital of Finland Soviet track and field athletes won two medals – “gold” (Ponomaryova) and another “gold” (Galina Zibina in the shot put).

“The Olympic legend” project, that was set up in May, 2013 by the Russian Olympic Committee, the Association of athletes of Russia and Visa, a worldwide Olympic partner, consists of a series of programs for the veterans of the Olympic Movement aged 65-90 of our country. Visits to theatrical, circus and musical performances are being organized for them, as well as Moskva river boat tours and help about their houses.

The framework of this project provides open lessons at schools. These lessons allow the Olympians to share their memories with the students and the volunteers and to revisit the best moments of their sports careers. Those lessons also allow them to make sure their sports achievements are remembered by the younger generation of Russians.