Australian athletics icon John Landy dies at 91


Canberra: 1956 Olympic bronze medalist, former world 1500m and mile record holder John Landy has died at the age of 91.

The Australian, born in Melbourne in 1930, is best known for becoming the second person in history to take a four-minute break for a mile. In Turku in June 1954, his clock of 3:58.0 broke the coveted mark of 3:59.4 set by Roger Bannister just six weeks earlier. Landy’s generosity and interest in others was one of his notable character traits. This was augmented by a supernatural memory for names and faces. This generosity is famous for mentoring Ireland’s Ron Delany, who defeated Landy in the 1500 meters at the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games.

Landy was the Australian champion on five occasions – gold for over 800 yards, one mile and three miles. He was inducted into the Athletics Australia Hall of Fame in 2004. Its lunch chain is named in his honor. He was a proud and respected member of Athletics International.

He became a member of the Order of the British Empire in 1955 and received the Australian Sports Medal in 2000. A year later he received the Centenary Medal and was made a Companion of the Order of Australia.

Landy was Governor of Victoria from 1 January 2001 to 7 April 2006. He was the last runner-up in the Queen’s Baton Relay at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, receiving the baton from Olympic teammate and fellow state governor Marjorie Nelson and passing it to Queen Elizabeth. Second.

A passionate naturalist, photographer and environmentalist, he was the author of two books – Closer to Nature (1984) and A Coastal Diary (1993). He was a lifelong butterfly collector, donating his collection to the Australian Museum in Sydney in 2018.

“Our world is poorer without John Landy,” World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said in a statement on Saturday. “I had the privilege of knowing him well. He was a charming, kind and gentle man, one of the great pioneers of the golden age of middle-distance running in the 1950s.”

“He maintained his immense enthusiasm for athletics till the end and was one of its great ambassadors. He owes a great deal to our sport. I am deeply saddened by his passing and on behalf of World Athletics, I extend my heartfelt condolences to him. Condolences to the family, friends and the wider athletics community to whom he was such a dear person,” Coe said. (ANI)

First published:February 26, 2022, 7:40 pm

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