Legendary Australian athlete John Landy dies aged 91

Legendary Australian athlete John Landy dies aged 91

Legendary Australian athlete John Landy, renowned for his rivalry with Britain’s Roger Bannister in the 1950s, has died aged 91.

Landy became the second athlete in history, after Bannister, to run a four-minute mile.

The former mile and 1500m world record holder won Olympic bronze in the 1500m at the Melbourne Games in 1956.

“Our world is poorer without John Landy in it,” said World Athletics president Lord Coe.

During his athletics career, Melbourne-born Landy sought to make history and battled with Bannister to become the first person to beat the four-minute mile barrier.

Bannister pipped the Australian to the historic achievement, clocking three hours 59.

4 minutes in Oxford in May 1954.

But Landy went better 46 days later in Finland with a time of 3:58.

0 – a record that stood for the next three years.

“He lit the spark that led to the legendary chase for the four-minute mile between 1952 and 1954 and was one of the main protagonists in that quest,” added Coe, himself a two-time Olympic 1500m gold medallist.

“Ultimately Roger Bannister got there first but was also the first to recognise that Landy’s excellence inspired him to reach that historic landmark.

Landy is famously remembered for his show of sportsmanship – and superb athleticism – in the 1500m final at the 1956 Australian Track and Field Championships.

Several athletes fell in the third lap, including junior 1500m world record-holder Ron Clarke, prompting Landy to stop to see if his rival was uninjured.

After checking Clarke’s condition, Landy continued and chased down the leaders to win the event in a time of 4:04.


Landy also served as the governor of his home state Victoria from 2001 to 2006.

BBC/Emmanuel Ukoh
Legendary Australian athlete John Landy dies aged 91

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