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 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)