John Landy’s name is synonymous with Australian sport and he is now immortalised in statues in two different countries for two different reasons.
John Landy was second man to break the four minute mile and he held the world record for both the 1500m and the mile, in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics he won a bronze medal in the 1500m after earlier taking the athlete’s oath for the 1956 games.
He attended Geelong Grammar School and played thirteen games (12 senior & 1 reserves match) for Old Geelong Grammarians between 1957 and 1963.
Prior to that he was good enough to win a competition Best & Fairest when playing for Dookie College in the Goulburn Football League in 1950.
Back to those statues, in 1954 John Landy and Roger Bannister (the first man to break the four minute mile record) clashed at the British Empire Games (Commonwealth Games) in Vancouver, Canada in what was dubbed the “race of the century”; or “miracle mile”; amongst others.
Landy led on the last turn and turned to look over his left shoulder at the same time Bannister passed him on the right to go on and win, the statue of this moment now stands in the Hastings and Renfrew entrance of the Pacific National Exhibition fairgrounds in Vancouver.
In the Australian National Championships in 1956 Landy was involved in what many Australians regard as the sporting moment of the century.
Leading the race was the young champion of the future Ron Clarke who fell when he clipped the leg of another competitor early on the third lap and Landy stopped to check if Clarke was alright.
When Clarke continued running so too did Landy, making up the lost ground and winning the race despite his incredible sportsmanship.
The statue of this moment sits on Olympic Boulevard and Punt Road in Melbourne, the National Centre for History and Education in Australia said, “It was a spontaneous gesture of sportsmanship and it has never been forgotten.”
In 2003, John attended VAFA season launch, then called the Presidents’, Secretaries’ and Members’ Dinner when he was Governor of Victoria.