Twice Olympic 800 metres finalist Donato Sabia has died from COVID-19 at the age of 56, the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) said on Wednesday.
CONI said in a statement that Sabia had been in the intensive care unit of the San Carlo hospital on Potenza, in the southern Italian region of Basilicata, for “a few days.”
Sabia finished fifth in the 800 metres at Los Angeles in 1984 and seventh in Seoul four years later. He won the gold medal in the same event at the European Indoor Championships in 1984.
According to CONI, he is the first Olympic finalist in the world to die from the virus.
The Italian athletics federation (FIDAL), which described him as “an extraordinarily talented athlete but, above all, a gentle person”, said that Sabia’s father had also died from COVID-19 a few days earlier.
“It’s a tragedy within a tragedy,” said FIDAL president Alfio Giomi in a statement. “Donato was a person who you couldn’t not love.”