PIETRO PAOLO MENNEA (Italian pronunciation: ; 28 June 1952 – 21
March 2013) was an Italian sprinter and politician . He was most
successful in the
200 m event, in which he won a gold medal at the
Moscow Olympics and set a world record at 19.72 seconds in
September 1979. This record stood for almost 17 years – the longest
duration in the event history – and is still listed as the European
* 1 Biography
* 1.1 Early life
200 metres world record
* 1.3 Olympic champion
* 1.4 Last years
* 1.5 After athletics
* 1.6 Death
* 2 Olympic results
* 3 Honors and awards
* 4 See also
* 5 References
* 6 External links
Mennea, who was born in
Barletta , started his long international
athletic career in 1968 when he won various races for juniores in
Termoli and he was registered in AVIS
Barletta club; in 1971, he won
the first of his 14 Italian outdoor titles in the 100 and 200 m. He
went on to win two indoor titles in 60 m and 400 m, along with five
Mediterranean Games gold medals in
100 m and 200 m. He competed at the
European Championships with a third place in the 4 ×
100 m relay. He
made his Olympic debut at the 1972
Summer Olympics in
Munich , where
he made the final of the 200 m, his strongest event. He finished in
third place, behind
Valeri Borzov and
Larry Black . Three more Olympic
200 metre finals would follow later in his career.
At the 1974 European Championships , Mennea claimed the
200 m gold in
front of his home crowd in
Rome , while also placing second behind
Borzov in the
100 m and the 4 × 100 m. After some poor performances
in the 1976 Olympic season, Mennea decided to skip the Olympics, but
when the Italian public protested Mennea went to
Montreal . He
finished fourth in the
200 m and sixth in the 4 ×
100 m relay.
In 1977 he finished second in the world cup 200, where a photo finish
separated him from
Clancy Edwards of the United States. He
successfully defended his European
200 m title in 1978 but displayed
his capabilities in the
100 metres by also winning that event in
200 METRES WORLD RECORD
In 1979, Mennea placed first in the
100 metres and second in the 200
Allan Wells of Great Britain in the European Cup. Later in
the year, aged 27, he took part in the World University Games, which
were held on the high-altitude track of
Mexico City . On 12 September
1979, he won the
200 metres with a time of 19.72. His time set a new
world record, beating
Tommie Smith 's time of 19.83 set on the same
track in the 1968
Summer Olympics . The record held for seventeen
years before Michael Johnson broke it at the 1996 U.S. Olympic Trials
. To date, only nine athletes have recorded a better time over 200
metres than Mennea. His time stands as the current European record. He
also held the low-altitude world record, 19.96, from 1980 to 1983, set
in his home town of
Barletta . On 17 August 1980, Mennea became the
first sprinter to break 20 seconds for the
200 metres for the third
Entering the 1980
Summer Olympics in
Moscow , Mennea was a clear
favourite for the Olympic gold, in part because of the United States
boycott of the
Moscow Olympics. In the 200 metre final, Mennea faced
Don Quarrie and 100 metre champion Allan Wells.
Mennea drew the outer most lane with Wells in lane 7 to his inside.
Wells got out to a blistering fast start and closed on Mennea within
the first 50 m. They approached the straight with Wells more than a
two-metre lead on Mennea with Quarrie in second and Silvio Leonard,
hampered by his lane 1 draw, in fourth. However, in the straight
Mennea gained ground and passed Quarrie and Leonard and at the very
end of the race, just beating Wells, winning the gold by a mere 0.02
seconds. Later in the games, he was the anchor man on the Italian
bronze medal winning 4 × 400 relay team. He also competed in the 100
metres, reaching the semi-finals.
In 1983, in
Cassino , he clocked a manual 14.8 seconds in 150 metres,
a world best time that he held until it was bettered by
Usain Bolt in
Manchester in 2009. Mennea, known in
Italy as the Freccia del Sud
("Arrow of the South", from the trains of the same name connecting
Sicily to Milan), then announced his retirement, allowing himself more
time for his studies. However, he came back from retirement soon and
won a bronze medal in the
200 m at the inaugural World Championships
Helsinki . A year later, he competed in his fourth consecutive
200 m final, becoming the first person to do so. The defending
champion finished in seventh, and retired from athletics for a second
time afterwards. Again, Mennea made a comeback, and competed in his
fifth Olympics in
Seoul , but did not make it through the heats of the
Mennea later admitted that he had used human growth hormone once
during the last year of his career. In an interview to an Italian
newspaper in 1987 he told that in 1984, during the
Summer Olympics in
Los Angeles, an American physiotherapist proposed a doping treatment
to him. Back in
Italy he tried two injections of human growth hormone
but the crisis of conscience he got was so important that it induced
him to retire from activity: "I realized that in my life I was looking
for everything, except for that." Although the usage of the substance
is banned in modern-day competition, it was not banned at the time by
the IAAF .
After his athletic career, Mennea worked as a lawyer and a sports
agent. He was a member of the
European Parliament from 1999 to 2004
elected on the list of The Democrats , but failed in his attempt to be
re-elected. He also lobbied for independent doping testing.
Mennea died on 21 March 2013, in a
Rome hospital after a long battle
with cancer. He was sixty years old. On the day of his death, the
Italian Railways announced that the new superfast train Frecciarossa
ETR 1000, entering service in 2014, will carry his name.
HONORS AND AWARDS
* On 24 May 2012, the Mayor of
Vangjush Dako , bestowed
upon Mennea the title of honorary citizen of Durrës.
President of Albania
Bamir Topi awarded Pietro Mennea
with the "Medal of Gratitude" with citation: "For value and
contribution as the former World record holder in Athletics and major
figure in the Foundation "Pietro Mennea", created to help sport and
* The 2016 edition of "Sport Movies -webkit-column-width: 30em;
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* ^ Rowbottom, Mike (23 March 2013) Pietro Mennea: Olympic sprint
200 metres world record stood for 17 years –
Obituaries – News.
The Independent (2013-03-23). Retrieved on
* ^ Savella, Stefano (2013). Soffri ma sogni. Le disfide di Pietro
Mennea da Barletta. Stilo. pp. 27–41. ISBN 8864790926 .
* ^ A B C "Pietro Mennea". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Sports
Reference LLC .
* ^ A B C D E F "Pietro Mennea, Sprint Champion, Dies at 60". New
York Times. Associated Press. 21 March 2013. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
* ^ "
Pietro Mennea – Results and Medalists". Olympics.org.
Retrieved 22 March 2013.
* ^ Pontani, Aligi (19 April 1994). "Mennea – Locatelli Atletica
Spaccata Parolacce E Querele" (in Italian). repubblica.it. Retrieved
10 May 2012.
* ^ Turnbull, Simon (13 September 1998). "Pietro runs a new show".
The Independent . Retrieved 9 November 2010.
* ^ Nichols, Peter (22 March 2013). "
Pietro Mennea obituary".
Guardian.co.uk . Retrieved 24 March 2013.
* ^ "Addio a Pietro Mennea, il re dei 200". Corriere della Sera. 21
March 2013. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
* ^ "L\'atletica piange Pietro Mennea". Retrieved 22 March 2013.
* ^ "Atletica: Morto A Roma Pietro Mennea". Retrieved 22 March
Pietro Mennea sarà un Frecciarossa: la dedica più bella –
La Gazzetta dello Sport. Gazzetta.it. 21 March 2013.
* ^ Despite having qualified for the quarter-finals Mennea did not
start to the next round.
* ^ Kryebashkiaku
Vangjush Dako i jep titullin “Nderi i
qytetit” legjendës botërore të atletikës Pietro Mennea,
Durrës (in Albanian).
* ^ Dako i jep titullin “Nderi i qytetit” legjendës botërore
të atletikës Pietro Mennea, Shekullin Online, 24 May 2012 (in
* ^ Presidenti Topi dekoron z.
Pietro Mennea me “Medaljen e
Mirënjohjes”, President of Albania, 24 May 2012 (in Albanian).
* ^ "145 Projections from 63 Countries for "Sport Movies & Tv
2016". Accreditation for Press Conference: 8 November - Ficts". Ficts.
2016-10-15. Retrieved 2017-05-25.
* ^ "FICTS Hall of Fame" (PDF).
* ^ "
73891 Pietromennea (1997 ED23)". Minor Planet Center.
Retrieved 6 February 2018.
* ^ "MPC/MPO/MPS Archive". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 6
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