Italian sprint legend Pietro Mennea has died at the age of 60

Last Updated: 21/03/13 10:47am

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Pietro Mennea: Italian sprint legend has died at the age of 60

Pietro Mennea: Italian sprint legend has died at the age of 60

Sky Bet

Former Italian sprinter Pietro Mennea has died in a Rome clinic at the age of 60.

Mennea, who had been battling an as yet unnamed incurable disease for some time, won Olympic gold in the 200 metres in Moscow - when he beat Britain's Allan Wells - and also picked up a bronze in the 4x400m relay.

He also won a bronze medal in the 200m at the 1972 Munich Games.

However he is best known for holding the 200m world record for nearly 17 years after setting a mark of 19.72 seconds on September 12 1979 in Mexico City - it still stands as a European record.

The world record lasted until Michael Johnson ran 19.66 on June 23 1996, at the US Olympic trials.

Mennea, who was affectionately known as the "Arrow of the South", announced his retirement in 1983 but went back on his decision to compete and win a 200m bronze at the inaugural World Athletics Championships in Helsinki that same year.

A year later he became the first person to appear in a fourth consecutive 200m Olympic final, at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.

He failed to make the medals and, after yet another retirement, returned to competition in time for the Seoul Games of 1988 where he failed to make the final.

Although known for his exploits, Mennea later admitted to using human growth hormone (HgH), which was not banned at the time, to aid his performances.

Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) president Giovanni Malago announced that Mennea's body would lie in state at the Olympic Committee headquarters.

"Italian sport is in mourning," read a CONI statement.

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