It will be 39 years this September that Pietro Mennea set the European 200m record of 19.72 but Turkey’s world champion Ramil Guliyev is hoping his name will be at the top of the list before then.
Guliyev has revealed that breaking Mennea’s mark is one of his major targets as he looks to further emphasise his place in the history of the event after his superb and shock triumph in London 10 months ago.
“I will tell you my long term goal,” said Guliyev, 28, who is contemplating contesting the 100m as well as the 200m at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships. “That is to break the European 200m record of Pietro Mennea.”
‘Legend’ is a word over-used in sport but when speaking of the electric Italian, it is perfect.
In the altitude of Mexico City on 12 September 1979, Mennea roared his way into the record books with a time that is now heading towards its fifth decade at the top of the European all-time lists.
The only man to come close to it it was France’s Christophe Lemaitre with his 19.80 national and European U23 record in finishing third at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu in 2011.
Mennea was a double European champion when he ran 19.72 – which was also a world record – and the following year he became Olympic champion in Moscow when he won in 20.19.
It is now five years since Mennea, a five-time Olympian, passed away at the age of 60 but he remains the only man to have successfully defended a European 200m title, winning at home in Rome in 1974 and then taking gold in Prague four years later. In fact, he is the only man to win more than one European 200m title.
Spain’s Bruno Hortelano will be looking to follow the feat of Mennea when Berlin co-hosts with Glasgow the first multi-sports European Championships in August having won gold in Amsterdam in 2016 in 20.45 with Guliyev in second in 20.51.
But last summer, Guliyev hit the home turn in brilliant style to win world gold in 20.09 from South Africa’s favourite Wayde van Niekerk in 20.11.
Suddenly Guliyev was at a different level and now he wants to take his success even further and what better track lies ahead than the Olympic Stadium in Berlin – the blue surface where Usain Bolt ran his sensational 200m world record of 19.19 in 2009.
Guliyev has maintained his superb form from 2017, winning the Oslo Diamond League last week in 19.90 after which he talked about his European record exploits.
“I am still not in top shape,” he said. “I was actually planning by this time to go even faster as we started the season in May but some setbacks stopped me. At the European Championships, I will for sure run the 200m and later I will decide about the 100m.”
His 200m personal best of 19.88, which put him sixth on the European all-time list, goes back to Zagreb in 2015. He remains the European U20 record-holder with 20.04 set in Belgrade in 2009 when he won the World University Games title - the event in which Mennea ran 1972 in 1979.
Now he wants the senior record no-one else has been able to break.
More information on the 2018 European Championships:
- The Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships will be part of the first multi-sport European Championships along with co-hosts Glasgow.
- It will be a must-watch, must-attend experience that elevates the status of European Champions, uniting existing European Championships to celebrate the highest honour in European sport and celebrating the defining moments that create Champions.
- It is the continent’s ultimate multi-sport event, an 11-day celebration of European sport staged every four years.
- Seven of Europe’s leading sports (athletics, aquatics, rowing, golf, cycling, gymnastics, triathlon) will be brought together for the first edition.
- The European Athletics Championships in Berlin will be staged 7-12 August. The six other sports will be staged in Glasgow through 2-12 August.
- 4500 athletes and 52 nations will compete across the seven sports.
- Potential TV audience of over one billion with millions more across multiple digital platforms.
- Over half a million spectators expected.