Thursday, March 21, 2013
Vol. 3 No. 19 Pietro Mennea RIP
ROME (AP) — Pietro Mennea, an Olympic sprint champion from Italy who held the world record in the 200 meters for 17 years, died here on Thursday. He was 60.
His death was announced by the Italian Olympic Committee, which did not provide a cause.
Mennea won a gold medal in the 200 and a bronze in the 4x400 relay at the 1980 Moscow Olympics and a bronze in the 200 at the 1972 Munich Games. He set the 200-meter world record of 19.72 seconds on Sept. 12, 1979, at the World University Games in Mexico City, breaking Tommie Smith’s record of 19.83, set on the same track at the 1968 Olympics.
Mennea’s record stood until Michael Johnson ran 19.66 on June 23, 1996, at the United States Olympic trials.
“I never thought for a minute it would last that long,” Mennea said in an interview with The Associated Press that year. “I didn’t even think at the time I had run that fast.”
Usain Bolt holds the current 200 record of 19.19, set at the 2009 world championships in Berlin.
After his track career, Mennea worked as a lawyer and a sports agent, and he was a member of the European Parliament.