Olympic archery champion Ketevan Losaberidze passed away on Sunday, January 23, 2022, at the age of 73. The Georgian archer, affectionately known as Keto, won the gold medal at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow as a member of the Soviet Union archery team, making her the first and only Olympic archery gold medal winner for the Soviet Union.
Born on August 1, 1949, in Tqibuli, Imereti, Georgia, Losaberidze first took up archery as a student in 1966. It is fair to say that her rise to competition success was astonishingly fast. She was the Georgian women’s champion in 1967 and competed as part of the region’s team in a range of competitions across the Soviet Union over the following years.
Losaberidze received an invitation to join the Soviet national team in 1971 and proceeded to dominate her sport within the Soviet Union throughout the 1970s, competing in national and international tournaments and taking home numerous medals and trophies for both individual and team events, eventually becoming Georgia’s most decorated and well-known Olympic archer.
In addition to her Olympic gold, Losaberidze also won the team gold at the World Championships at Grenoble in 1973 and again at Punta Ala in 1981, as well as both an individual gold and team gold at the European Championships in Walferdange in 1972. She went on to win team gold at the European Championships at Stoneliegh in 1978 and at Compiegne in 1980.
The Georgian archer’s win at the Moscow Olympics was her second Olympic outing, having also made the team for the Munich Olympics in 1972, where she finished in fourth place. In addition, she won the Soviet Cup twice, in both 1972 and 1978. She was affiliated with the Burevestnik Kutaisi and
Burevestnik Tbilisi archery clubs.
The gold medal won by Losaberidze at the 1980 Olympics is the only gold medal the Soviet Union ever won for archery at the Olympic Games before it was dissolved in 1991. Losaberidze is also currently one of less than 100 athletes from Georgia ever to achieve a podium finish at the Olympic Games and one of only two archers from the region to ever get on the Olympic podium.
In her professional life, Losaberidze worked as a professor of mathematics at Tbilisi State University. After retiring from her competitive archery career, she stayed involved with the sport over the years and was the founding president of the Georgian Archery Federation, where she served as president from 2002 until 2005. Losaberidze remained active in supporting and promoting the sport long after her competitive days were over and was widely respected in the world of archery.
Losaberidze was chosen as the Georgian sportsman of the year after her Olympic win in 1980 and was shortlisted at fourth place in the vote for the Georgian sportswoman of the 20th century. The last archery competition of the season, the final of the Georgian Cup, is traditionally called the Ketevan Losaberidze Cup.