Athletics: Former 200m world record holder Mennea dies at 60

ROME (AP) - Pietro Mennea, an Olympic sprint champion from Italy who held the world record in the 200 metres for 17 years, died on Thursday. He was 60.

The Italian Olympic Committee (Coni) said he died in a Rome clinic. No cause of death was given.

Mennea won gold in the 200m and bronze in the 4x400m relay at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, plus a bronze in the 200m at the 1972 Munich Games.

He set the 200m world record record of 19.72 seconds on Sept 12, 1979, at the World University Games at high altitude in Mexico City. He broke Tommie Smith's record of 19.83, set on the same track at the 1968 Olympics.

Mennea's record stood until Michael Johnson ran 19.66 on June 23, 1996, at the US Olympic trials. Johnson lowered the mark to 19.32 at the Atlanta Olympics later that year.

"I never thought for a minute it would last that long," Mennea said in a 1996 interview with The Associated Press. "I didn't even think at the time I had run that fast."

Jamaican Usain Bolt holds the current 200m record of 19.19, set at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin.

Mennea also won four golds at the European Championships - three outdoor and one indoor - plus a silver and a bronze at World Championships. He still holds the European and Italian records in the 200m.

Coni president Giovanni Malago announced that Mennea's body would lie in state at the Olympic committee headquarters on Friday and that a minute of silence will be held at all sports events in the country through Sunday. The funeral will be held on Saturday in Rome.

Italy's football team planned to wear black armbands for Thursday's friendly against Brazil in Geneva, with a minute of silence to be observed.

After his athletics career, Mennea worked as a lawyer, sports agent and as a member of the European Parliament. He didn't spend much time reminiscing about his days as a sprinter, at one point publishing a book on sports law.