If you are on the brown line you can get off at the “Lionel Messi” stop and from there take the yellow one; or if you are on the black one from the “Roger Federer” stop you could get to “Nadia Comaneci” and get on the subway that takes you to the “Pietro Mennea” stop . A hyper-futuristic journey into the winning history of sport
No, it was taking the London Underground during the 2012 Olympics .
A boutade left only on paper created by Alex Trickett , BBC curator of the sports section and David Brooks, a sports scholar, but who paid homage to the many athletes who, among records, battles, challenges and medals, have carved out a place in the eternal Olympus.
From athletics, to basketball through football, swimming and tennis, 361 names , one for each stop of the historic metro line of the English capital inaugurated on January 10, 1863. And among them, as seen, there was also Pietro Mennea , the “Freccia del Sud” as it was nicknamed, an ironic and even a bit mocking coincidence given that its South is often mistreated and little connected with the rest of Italy and Europe .
But this recognition is a further pin to the value and greatness of the athlete born inBarletta on June 28, 1952 and died prematurely in Rome on March 21, 2013, due to a tumor.
For 17 years he was the world record holder in the flat 200 meters , which he had run in 1979, in Mexico City, in 19 seconds and 72 cents . That time, beaten in 1996 by the American Michael Johnson (also present in the London metro) and still the best time ever recorded by a European.
Furthermore, Mennea is also the only athlete to have qualified for four consecutive Olympic finals , from 1972 to 1984.
He will have smiled to see a stop in the London Underground renamed after him (and theHigh Street Kensington tube station , to be exact) alongside other Italians such as Dorando Pietri , Paola Sedia, Paolo Bettini , Edoardo Mangiarotti and the Abbagnale brothers .
The honor, on the other hand, of representing the two stops closest to the Olympic park, Stratford and Stratford International, went to Michael Phelps , the most titled athlete in the history of the modern Olympics with 23 gold medals, and to Cassius Clay , as his name was when he won gold in boxing, heavyweight category, at the 1960 Rome Games, before becoming Muhammad Ali.
The boxer and the Apulian runner met once, in California: Mennea was introduced to Muhammad Ali as the fastest man in the world. “But you are white!” Cassius Clay told him; «But inside I am blacker than you» , replied Pietro.
It ‘s true: the Barletta ran faster than the whites of the East and the blacks of the West. As a boy to raise some money, he challenged the cars in a speed race : in 50 meters he ran faster than the Porsches and Alphas, to earn 500 lire which would have allowed him to go to the cinema with the girl he wanted to conquer.
The spirit of Mennea is contained in her determination. He was not gifted with excellent physical characteristics, he was not sculptural, he had to build himself, constantly, every day – including holidays – in training. Achieve a goal, put it in your head and succeed. After all, he said:
Fatigue is never wasted: you suffer, but dreams

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