The husband-and-wife team of Lyudmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov were the first Soviet/Russian pair skaters to achieve international acclaim and provided the stimulus which ultimately led to many successes by future Soviet pairs skaters. They began skating as a pair in 1954 and married in 1957. They won a bronze (1955) and four silvers (1957-59, 1961) behind Nina and Stanislav Zhuk, before winning six titles (1962-64, 1966-68) at the Soviet Championships. After finishing second three times at both the World and European Championships in 1962-64, behind the German pair of Marika Kilius and Hans-Jürgen Bäumler, they upset them to win the gold medal at Innsbruck in 1964, repeating their gold medal in 1968 at Grenoble. In addition to their two Olympic gold medals they were World and European Champions four times (1965-68). After finishing second at the Soviet and European Championships and third at the World Championships in 1969, each time losing to Irina Rodnina and Aleksey Ulanov, the Soviet skating authorities “eased” them out of competition, claiming they were too old to continue at the top-levels of international skating. They won their last medals (bronze) at the Soviet Championships in 1972, before finally retiring from competition. In 1979 they eventually defected to Switzerland and settled to live in Grindelwald, obtaining Swiss citizenship in 1995. They have since spent many years competing in professional ice shows.