22 Mar 2013

Pietro Mennea dies

6:20 am on 22 March 2013

The former Olympic sprint champion Pietro Mennea, whose 200 metres world record lasted more than 16 years, has died in Rome aged 60.

Mennea won gold at the boycotted 1980 Moscow Olympics, as well as a 4 by 400 relay bronze.

He later admitted using human growth hormone, which was not banned at the time, during his career.

The 200 metres world record of 19.72 seconds set at altitude in Mexico City at the 1979 World Student Games remained unbeaten for 16 years nine months and 11 days and is still the European record.

Michael Johnson finally broke the mark with a time of 19.66 at the 1996 U.S. Olympic trials.

In the 1980 Olympic 200 final, Mennea beat Britain's Alan Wells for the gold in a time of 20.19.

The Italian, who had completed his doctorate in political science just two weeks before the Games, competed in five Olympics between 1972 and 1988 and appeared in four consecutive 200 finals.

Mennea was known as the Arrow of the South.