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John Landy

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 0
Silver 0
Bronze 1
Total 1
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
SexMale
Full nameJohn Michael•Landy
Used nameJohn•Landy
Born12 April 1930 in Hawthorn, Victoria (AUS)
Died24 February 2022 in Castlemaine, Victoria (AUS)
Measurements182 cm / 69 kg
AffiliationsGeelong Guild Athletics Club, Belmont, Victoria (AUS)
NOC Australia

Biography

John Landy was an Australian middle-distance runner who, on 21 June 1954, at a meet in Turku, Finland, became the second man, after Roger Bannister, to run a mile in under four minutes. Landy competed at the 1952 and 1956 Olympic Games, winning a bronze medal in the 1,500 metres in 1956. He also spoke the Athlete’s Oath at the Opening Ceremony of the Melbourne Olympics.

Landy joined the Geelong Guild Athletic Club in 1949, where he worked with legendary coach Percy Cerutty. Landy graduated from Dookie College at the University of Melbourne in 1954, where he also played Aussie Rules. At the 1952 Helsinki Olympics he ran both the 1,500 and 5,000 but failed to make the final in either event.

Landy and Bannister then attacked the four-minute mile barrier over the next few years with Bannister getting there first in May 1954. Landy broke Bannister’s world record with his 3:57.9 run in Turku, a mark that would stand for three years. The two were to meet in August 1954 at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, in what was billed as “The Miracle Mile,” “The Race of the Century,” and “The Dream Mile.” In the final straight Landy appeared to have the race in hand but coming down the stretch he looked over his left shoulder to see where Bannister was, only to have the Brit pass him on the right and win the race in 3:58.8 as Landy recorded 3:59.6, the first time two men had run under four minutes in a mile race.

At the 1956 Australia Championships, prior to the Melbourne Olympics, Landy famously stopped and checked on Ron Clarke, who had just fallen. Landy helped him to his feet and then took off after the field and still won the race, making up a large deficit. Scott Mitchell created a sculpture of the moment when Landy helped Clarke to his feet and it was dedicated in June 2002 at the Olympic Park in Melbourne.

After his athletics career Landy entered the business world serving as senior manager at ICI Australia. He was later commissioner-general for the Australian Pavilion at Expo 86 in Vancouver and was on the Victorian Land Conservation Council from 1971-78, and eventually entered politics. Landy was sworn in as the 26th Governor of Victoria on 1 January 2001 and served until 7 April 2006.

Landy’s honors and awards are numerous. He was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1955 for services to sport, and was awarded the Australian Sports Medal in 2000. In 2006 he was appointed a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO). Landy was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1985. He received several honorary degrees, including a Doctor of Laws from the University of Victoria in 1994, a Doctor of Rural Science from the University of New England in 1997, and Doctor of Laws from the University of Melbourne in 2003 and from Deakin University in 2009.

Personal Bests: 1500 – 3:41.8 (1954); 3 miles – 13:27.4 (1956), 5000 – unknown.

Results

Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1952 Summer Olympics Athletics AUS John Landy
800 metres, Men (Olympic) DNS
1,500 metres, Men (Olympic) 5 h4 r1/3
5,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 10 h1 r1/2
4 × 400 metres Relay, Men (Olympic) Australia DNS
1956 Summer Olympics Athletics AUS John Landy
1,500 metres, Men (Olympic) 3 Bronze
5,000 metres, Men (Olympic) DNS

Special Notes