Rome, March 21 (IANS) Italy’s sports world was plunged in grief Thursday as Olympic gold medallist Pietro Mennea died here aged 60 after a long battle with a terminal illness.
Mennea, the best sprinter Italy has ever produced, was especially remembered for the 19.72-second world record he set in the 200 metres in Mexico City in 1979, reports Xinhua.
His mark stood for 17 years before Michael Johnson set a new record when he clocked 19.32 in the trials for the 1996 Olympics.
Nicknamed La Freccia del Sud (Arrow of the South), Mennea enjoyed a brilliant 27-year career in which the apex was in 1980 when he won the gold medal in the 200-metre final in the Moscow Olympics.
Born in the town of Barletta, in the southern Puglia region, he was one of a few athletes who competed in five Olympic Games representing Italy in Munich (1972), Montreal (1976), Moscow (1980), Los Angeles (1984) and Seoul (1988).