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John Landy, leading the field in the first lap of the Men's Invitation 1500 metres event, amateur athletic meeting, at Malvern, Victoria in 1953.

John Michael Landy, AC, CVO, MBE (born 12 April 1930) is a former track athlete and was the 26th Governor of Victoria, Australia. He married his wife, Lynne, in 1971, and they have two children, Matthew and Alison.[1] While serving as Governor, John and Lynne Landy resided at Government House, Melbourne. He retired from the position after serving a five-year term on 7 April 2006, and was succeeded by medical researcher David de Kretser.



Born in Melbourne, John Landy attended school at Malvern Memorial Grammar School and Geelong Grammar School. He graduated from Melbourne University in 1954, receiving a Bachelor of Agricultural Science.

Over the years, Landy has been awarded numerous honorary degrees. The first being in 1994 of Doctor of Laws by the University of Victoria. Then, in 1997, a Doctor of Rural Science from the University of New England, followed by a Doctor of Laws from The University of Melbourne in 2003 and Doctor of Laws by Deakin University in 2009.


During his school years, Landy enjoyed watching 1500 metre track events. He became a serious runner during his college years, joining the Geelong Guild Athletic Club in 1949. He was a member of the Australian Olympic team at both the 1952 Summer Olympics and 1956 Summer Olympics. During his running career, he held the world records for the 1500 metre run and the mile race.

On 21 June 1954, at an international meet in Finland, Landy became the second man after Roger Bannister to achieve a sub-4 minute mile, recording a world record time of 3:57.9, ratified by the IAAF as 3:58.0 owing to the rounding rules then in effect. That record held for more than three years.

John Landy leaps over Ron Clarke in the 1956 Australian National Championships 1500 metre final

Worldwide, Landy is probably best known for his part in a mile race in the British Empire Games at Vancouver, British Columbia, in August 1954. Landy ran his second sub-4 minute mile in the race, but lost to Roger Bannister, who had his best-ever time. This meeting of the world's two fastest milers was called "The Miracle Mile", the "Race of the Century" and the "Dream Race"; it was heard over the radio by 100 million people and seen on television by millions more. On the final turn of the last lap, as Landy looked over his left shoulder, Bannister passed him on the right. A larger-than-life bronze sculpture of the two men at this moment was created by Vancouver sculptor Jack Harman in 1967 from a photograph by Vancouver Sun photographer Charlie Warner and stood for many years at the entrance to Empire Stadium; after the stadium was demolished the sculpture was moved a short distance away to the Hastings and Renfrew entrance of the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) fairgrounds. Regarding this sculpture, Landy quipped that "While Lot's wife was turned into a pillar of salt for looking back, I am probably the only one ever turned into bronze for looking back."[2]

In Australia, Landy is perhaps most famously remembered for his performance in the 1500 metres final at the 1956 Australian National Championships prior to the Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games. In the race, Landy stopped and doubled backed to check on fellow runner Ron Clarke after another runner clipped Clarke's heel, causing him to fall early in the third lap of the race. Clarke, the then-junior 1500 metre world champion, who had been leading the race, got back to his feet and started running again; Landy followed. Incredibly, in the final two laps Landy made up a large deficit to win the race, something considered one of the greatest moments in Australian sporting history. Said the National Centre for History and Education in Australia, "It was a spontaneous gesture of sportsmanship and it has never been forgotten." [1] A bronze sculpture of the moment when Landy helps Clarke to his feet is situated on the lawns adjacent to Olympic Park on Olympic Boulevard, Melbourne.


Olympic medal record
Competitor for  Australia
Men's Athletics
Bronze 1956 Melbourne 1,500 metres

Second man in the world to run a sub-four minute mile which he did on 21 June 1954 at Turku, Finland.

Landy took the Olympic Oath at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne.[3]

On 1 January 2001, Landy was appointed by Premier Steve Bracks as the 26th Governor of Victoria, succeeding Sir James Gobbo. He retired as Governor on 7 April 2006, being succeeded by Professor David de Kretser AC KStJ.

In 1955, John Landy was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire for Services to Sport,[4], was awarded the Australian Sports Medal in 2000,[5] and in 2001 he was awarded the Centenary Medal,[6] made a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC)[7] and a Knight of Grace of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem. In 2006 he was appointed a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) during The Queen's visit to Australia.[8]

He was Commissioner-General for the Australian exhibit at Expo 92.

An avid naturalist, Landy has written two books on natural history. He worked as senior manager at ICI Australia, and had a successful public speaking career. For eight years (1971-78) Landy served on the Land Conservation Council of Victoria, contributing to debates and recommendations about the balance use of public land across Victoria[9].

On 15 March 2006, John Landy was the final runner in the Queen's Baton relay at the MCG stadium during the 2006 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, presenting the baton to the Queen by placing it in its specially constructed holder.

On 12 July 2008, John Landy was the guest speaker at his clubs Centenary Dinner held at North Geelong. Landy has been a Life Member of the Geelong Guild Athletic Club since April 1958. Named after Landy, Landy Field in South Geelong is the Geelong regions major athletic facility.

It was announced on 12 February 2009 that John Landy had been appointed the chair of the Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund Advisory Panel.[10] He stood down from the position on the 7th September that same year.

East Doncaster Secondary College has a VCE centre dedicated in Landy's honour.


  1. ^ IMDb biography
  2. ^
  3. ^ IOC 1956 Summer Olympics
  4. ^ It's an Honour - Member of the Order of the British Empire
  5. ^ It's an Honour - Australian Sports Medal
  6. ^ It's an Honour - Centenary Medal
  7. ^ It's an Honour - Companion of the Order of Australia
  8. ^ It's an Honour - Commander of the Royal Victorian Order
  9. ^ Danielle Clode (2006) As if for a thousand years: A history of Victoria's Land Conservation and Environment Conservation Councils, Victorian Environmental Assessment Council
  10. ^, Bereavement fund for bushfire victims


  • FitzSimons, Peter (2006). Great Australian Sports Champions. Harper Collins Publishers. ISBN 0-7322-8517-8.  
  • The Perfect Mile: Three Athletes, One Goal, and Less Than Four Minutes to Achieve It, by Neal Bascomb, 2004, ISBN 0-618-39112-6
Preceded by
United Kingdom Roger Bannister
Men's Mile World Record Holder
21 June 1954 – 19 July 1957
Succeeded by
United Kingdom Derek Ibbotson
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir James Gobbo
Governor of Victoria
Succeeded by
David de Kretser


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