Al Lawrence

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameAllan Cleave Evan "Al"•Lawrence
Used nameAl•Lawrence
Born9 July 1930 in Punchbowl, New South Wales (AUS)
Died15 May 2017 in Houston, Texas (USA)
Measurements171 cm / 61 kg
AffiliationsBotany Harriers, Sydney (AUS) / Randwick Botany Harriers, Sydney (AUS)
NOC Australia
Medals OG
Gold 0
Silver 0
Bronze 1
Total 1


Allan Lawrence won Australia’s first athletics medal at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, a bronze, in the 10,000 metres. Lawrence was a leading New South Wales (NSW) runner in the mid-1950s, winning 11 NSW titles in cross-country and road running. He started his international career at the 1954 Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, where he placed eighth in the 6 miles and tenth in the 3 miles. At the Games, he also competed in one of the most grueling marathons in Championship history, made famous by Jim Peters (GBR) who entered the stadium in first place and after collapsing 11 times was taken off the track by the officials. Lawrence, one of 10 of the 16 starters who failed to finish, withdrew around the 35km mark, after carrying his shoes in his hand for a mile and being unaware of doing this.

Two years later Lawrence won selection for the Melbourne Olympics. In the 10,000 m, he won the bronze medal after a terrific battle with Hungarian Jozsef Kovacs, running the last mile in 4:33 and 400 m in 62.0 seconds. Later in the Games he won his 5,000 m heat, but sustained an injury that forced him to withdraw from the final.

In the late 1950s Lawrence studied at the University of Houston where he was a sensation in cross-country and indoor athletics. He won US college (NCAA) cross country titles, set world indoor records and won the 1960 US AAU title at 10,000 metres.

Lawrence was selected for the 1960 Olympics where he placed fourth in his 5000m heat and 54th in the marathon. During his career, he broke over 10 Australian records from 2 miles to 10,000m and was the first Australian to break 14 minutes for 5000m and 30 and 29 minutes for 10,000m. In the early 80s he became an American citizen and set up a successful coaching business, the “Al Lawrence Running Club,” based in Houston, Texas. A resident of Houston for many decades, Lawrence passed away after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Personal Bests: 5000 – 13:54.2 (1957); 10000 – 28:53.59 (1956); Mar – 2-26:43 (1953).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1956 Summer Olympics Athletics AUS Al Lawrence
5,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 1 h2 r1/2
10,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 3 Bronze
1960 Summer Olympics Athletics AUS Al Lawrence
5,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 4 h2 r1/2
10,000 metres, Men (Olympic) DNF
Marathon, Men (Olympic) 54