Former 200m world record holder Pietro Mennea of Italy died in a Rome clinic Thursday of an unnamed incurable disease. He was 60-years-old.
Mennea ran 19.72 seconds to break American Tommie Smith’s eleven-year old record in 1979 during the lead up to the Moscow Games, in which Mannea won gold in the 200m and bronze in the 4x400m relay. His record stood for 17 years until Michael Johnson ran 19.66 in 1996.
“I never thought for a minute it would last that long,” Mennea told the Associated Press after Johnson finally broke his record before the Atlanta Games. “I didn’t even think at the time I had run that fast.”
Mennea eventually competed in four 200m Olympic finals between 1972 and 1984 – the first person to ever do so – before retiring after missing the event finals at the Seoul Games in 1988.
CONI president Giovanni Malago said Mennea will be laid in state at Olympic Committee headquarters and that a moment of silence will be observed at every sporting event in Italy though this Sunday.
Fenway Park will host some of the world’s best freeskiers in the one-of-a-kind Big Air at Fenway, live on NBC Sports Live Extra on Friday night.
Big air skiers will descend from a ramp that’s four times higher than the Green Monster inside the hallowed Boston Red Sox home.
Ski big air is most like slopestyle of the current Olympic disciplines, except skiers get one jump per run.
WATCH LIVE: Big Air at Fenway — 8:30 p.m. ET
On Thursday, Canadian Max Parrot and American Julia Marino won the snowboard big air competitions at Fenway Park.
Big Air at Fenway coverage will conclude with an NBC show on Saturday at 5 p.m. ET.
MORE: Olympic champ suffers concussion at Big Air at Fenway practice
In an homage to the Lillehammer 1994 Winter Olympics, Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway lit the Lillehammer Youth Winter Olympic cauldron to cap the Opening Ceremony on Friday night.
The princess’ father, Crown Prince Haakon, lit the 1994 Olympic cauldron in a very similar fashion (video here). Princess Ingrid Alexandra was born in 2004.
The Opening Ceremony, held outdoors at a ski jump (same venue as 1994) in sub-freezing temperatures, included a speech from International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.
“I’m just a little bit too old to compete in the YOG,” Bach said, urging listeners to use the hashtag #IloveYOG during the nine-day Winter Games.
The ceremony included Olympic legends, such as 2010 figure skating gold medalist Yuna Kim and eight-time Olympic cross-country champion Bjorn Daehlie carrying the Olympic flag.
Marit Bjoergen, a 10-time Olympic medalist cross-country skier, handed the Olympic flame to the princess.
NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra will air coverage of the Opening Ceremony on Saturday at 12:30 a.m. ET, plus daily coverage throughout the Winter Games. A full broadcast schedule is here.
MORE: Two years to Pyeongchang: Updates on U.S. Olympic medalists from Sochi