ITALIAN SPORT LOSES SPRINTING HERO PIETRO MENNEA
Italian sport is in mourning, today wrote the official website of the Italian National Olympic Committee, announcing the death of sprinter Pietro Mennea, the winner of the 200 metre gold medal at the Moscow 1980 Olympic Games and the man who established a world record that remained unbeaten for over 16 years. He died yesterday, just before his 61st birthday after a brief illness.
Nicknamed “the southern arrow”, he was born close to Bari in the southern region of Apulia on the 28th of June 1952, and began his international career at 1971 European Athletics Championships. At the 1972 Munich Games he won his first Olympic medal, a bronze, coming behind Ukrainian Valery Borzov and American Larry Black.
His outstanding record he achieved at the 1979 Mexico City Universiads, winning the 200 metres in 19″ 72′, and it held right through to 1996.
Mennea’s outstanding career includes two world records, 8 European ones, 5 participations at Olympics (again, a record for a sprinter), and 52 presences with the Azzurri, the Italian team.
Having retired from competitive sport, Pietro Mennea got a degree in political sciences and law, and became a lawyer and company consultant. From 1999 to 2004 he represented Italy at the European Parliament. Having obtained a degree in physical education he then went back to the world of sport as a professor at the University of Chieti, in the Abruzzi region. In 2006 he set up a cultural and research foundation together with his wife.
CONI has been flooded with expressions of sympathy from the world of sport and Olympism, and all Italian sports events this weekend will commemorate Mennea with a minute’s silence.