By Dmitriy Rogovitskiy

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The first Olympic champion in the history of the Soviet Union, the discus thrower Nina Ponomareva, has died at the age 87, the All-Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF) announced on its website www.rusathletics.com on Friday.

At the country's debut Olympics in Helsinki in 1952, she won with an Olympic record of 51.42. 

Ponomareva also won a bronze at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne and a gold four years later in Rome.

After finishing her competitive career, she began coaching Soviet athletes.

(Reporting By Dmitriy Rogovitskiy; Editing by Jan Harvey)