Pietro Mennea was the fastest known runner in Italy, as well as being one of the best known Italian sportsmen ever and, since the year of his death, the Golden Gala in Rome, an international athletics event that takes place every year at the Olympic Stadium, is dedicated to him.
In 1979, Mennea ran 200 meters in 19 seconds and 72 cents and for seventeen years no one managed to break that record. It was broken only in 1996 by US Michael Johnson, but it is still the best time ever recorded by a European. Mennea is also the only athlete who qualified for four consecutive Olympic finals, from 1972 to 1984.
During his career, he won three Olympic medals (one gold in Moscow, in 1980, and two bronzes), two World Championships medals (one gold and one silver), six European Championships medals (three golds, two silver and one bronze), one gold European Indoor Championship, five golds and two bronze at the Summer Universiade, 10 medals at the Mediterranean Games (eight gold and two silver), and one silver medal in the World cup.
After his athletic career, Mennea studied a lot and graduated in Political Science, Law, and the Physical Education. He became a sports agent, lawyer, university professor and accountant. From 1999 to 2004 he has also been a member of the European Parliament. Mennea died in Rome on March 21, 2013, after a long battle with cancer and on that day the Trenitalia (the national train operator) announced that the new super-fast train Frecciarossa ETR 1000, entering service the following year, will carry his name.
Ilona Catani Scarlett