Marcello Fiasconaro

Biographical information

Full nameMarcello Luigi•Fiasconaro
Used nameMarcello•Fiasconaro
Born19 July 1949 in Cape Town, Western Cape (RSA)
Measurements185 cm / 78 kg
NOC Italy


Italian-South African distance runner Marcello Fiasconaro was the outstanding Italian athlete at the beginning of the 1970s. He was born to a Belgian mother and a Sicilian father who was taken prisoner during World War II. Following his release the family settled in Cape Town, where Marcello was born. His father became director of the Cape Town Opera House.

Marcello’s first sporting experience was with rugby before he switched to athletics in 1970. He immediately achieved surprising results in the 400m (46.5) and 800m. In 1971, on the recommendation of Carmelo Rado, a discus thrower who had emigrated to South Africa, he was contacted by the Italian Athletics Federation and invited to compete in Italy where he settled. Coached by Stewart Banner, Fiasconaro broke the Italian 400m record twice in July 1971 and started as one of the favourites for the European Championships at Helsinki but finished second the young Scot David Jenkins by just 0.04. Fiasconaro then ran a memorable last leg in the 4x400 relay final to win the bronze medal.

Having set the world record for the 400m indoors at the beginning of 1972, Fiasconaro was forced to withdraw from the München Olympics due to problems with his foot, the result of an old tibia fracture while playing rugby. The following year he moved up to 800m and it would be a decision he would not regret. Fiasconaro enjoyed some great battles with the best middle-distance runners in the world, and on 27 June 1973, in Milano, during the Italy-Czechoslovakia match, he led the race from start to finish and wrote his name into Italian athletics history by breaking the world record with 1:43.7, a time that would only be improved three years later by the legendary Alberto Juantorena in the Montréal Olympic final. With recurring foot pain, at the 1974 Roma European Championships, Fiasconaro only finished sixth. The end of an era for this outstanding Italian athlete was in sight, and practically ended that day on the track of the Olympic stadium.

After his athletic days, Fiasconaro was for over twenty years a representative of Adidas, then became a partner in the company distributing their products to the United States. Because he was Cape Town-born, Fiasconaro experienced years of apartheid and all the social tensions that plagued South Africa.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1972 Summer Olympics Athletics ITA Marcello Fiasconaro
400 metres, Men (Olympic) DNS