Ex-Olympic champion Lavrova killed in crash

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Former Olympic rhythmic gymnastics champion Natalia Lavrova died in a car accident on Friday, the Russian Rhythmic Gymnastics Federation said.

Lavrova, 25, was riding in a car involved in a collision near the city of Penza, southeast of Moscow, a Penza province traffic police official said on state-run Rossiya-24 television.

Rossiya-24 said Lavrova's sister, who was driving, was also killed.

Lavrova won gold in the rhythmic gymnastics team event at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics.

"Her tragic death is a huge, irrecoverable loss," the federation said on its website (www.vfrg.ru).

Lavrova was "a magnificent coach and a magnificent gymnast," Alina Kabayeva, a 2004 gold medalist who is now in Russia's parliament, said on Rossiya-24.

(Reporting by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Alison Wildey and Ken Ferris

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