Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner responsible for sport, has paid tribute to Olympic champion and former MEP Pietro Mennea who passed away on 21 March, aged 60.
Known as the "Arrow of the South", Mennea held the 200-metre world record for 17 years and won gold at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, to add to his bronze in the 200 at the 1972 Munich games. Mennea later served as a Member of the European Parliament (1999-2004), where he campaigned for the EU to have a competence on sport – which finally became a reality when the EU Treaty of Lisbon came into force in 2009.
"Pietro Mennea cared enormously about sport because he knew it from inside," said Commissioner Vassiliou: "He was a very talented man, both on and off the track – a world-record holder, Olympic champion, lawyer, academic and politician dedicated to European integration. He was a role model for young athletes, showing it is possible to be a winner in sport and in the rest of your professional life."