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Friday, 31 December, 1999, 00:12 GMT
The King and Queen of the ice

Bolero Bolero was the highlight of Torvill and Dean's glorious career

The decision to grant the OBE to Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean will be welcomed by the ice dancers' millions of fans.

The couple are one of the most popular teams ever to grace British sport, after winning virtually every prize on offer during their 1980s heyday.

Together they won the nation's hearts with their performance in the 1984 Winter Olympics when they were awarded nine perfect sixes for their interpretation of Ravel's Bolero.

Torvill and Dean Press and public alike talked up rumours of romance
European and World titles followed that triumph and, after turning professional, they dominated the sport with their innovative style winning three more world titles.

In 1994 Torvill and Dean made a dramatic return to the Olympic stage in Lillehammer, Norway.

And for their legion of followers it was as if they had never been away.

Some 23m TV viewers tuned in to the BBC to watch their attempt to recapture gold 10 years on.

But while their supporters felt they were destined for victory, the judges were not and they instead awarded the title to the Russain duo Alexsandr Zhulin and Maya Usova, in a decision which sparked a storm of controversy about the marking system.

Ice dance fans Ice dance fans give the judges a nudge in the Britons' direction
The international association later admitted to errors at Lillehammer - but it was too late for Torvill and Dean whose swansong was rewarded with a bronze medal.

The Nottingham-born couple were brought together by Janet Sawbridge, Torvill's trainer.

They were British champions within six months and their chemistry struck an immediate chord with the public.

Press attention focused on the possibility of romance between the pair - but they always insisted their partnership was purely professional.

Torvill, now aged 42 and married to Phil Christensen, a sound engineer, once said that the relationship with Dean was, "like marriage but without the sex".

Dean, a 41-year-old former policeman, said the pair were "a little bit more than brother and sister". He wedded Isabel Duchesnay, a French-Canadian skater, but the marriage later broke up.

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