Audio John Landy recalls an act of sportsmanship, 2008

TLF ID R10121

This is an edited sound recording of a former champion runner, John Landy, recalling an incident during the Australian mile championship in Melbourne on 11 March 1956. Landy says that the spikes of his shoes tore the arm of another runner, Australian Ron Clarke, who fell in front of him. He describes stopping to help Clarke, who urged him to resume running. Landy then caught up with the rest of the field and won the race, despite having fallen well behind. The recording was made in July 2008.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This recording is a firsthand account of an incident that has been recognised as one of the greatest examples of sportsmanship by an Australian. In 1999 the Sport Australia Hall of Fame named it Australia's finest sporting moment of the 20th century. The incident is commemorated in a sculpture that was erected opposite Melbourne's Olympic Park where the Australian mile championship race took place in 1956.
  • Landy's self-effacing attitude in relation to the incident is reflected in the interview; he says that too much has been made of the significance of his decision to stop running and to help Clarke. He recalls that he 'was a bit upset' that he had injured Clarke by failing to successfully jump over him, and that the decision to stop running was made on 'the spur of the moment'.
  • Landy (1930-) says that about 25,000 people had gathered at Olympic Park, hoping to see a world record set that day. At the time Landy was the men's world record holder for the mile (1.6 km). He had set the mark on 21 June 1954 at Turku in Finland in a time of 3:57.9 (rounded out under international rules then in force to 3:58.0). His time made him only the second man (after Roger Bannister of England) to run 1 mile in under 4 minutes. Landy's record lasted more than three years.
  • This recording gives an insight into the way a champion runner approaches an important race. Landy reveals that he was not focused on breaking his world record that day. Rather, he was interested 'in running a tactical race' in preparation for the 1,500-m race at the Olympic Games to be held in Melbourne later that year. In both races his aim was to win, but not necessarily in world record time.
  • Landy was captain of the Australian team at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, and read the Olympic oath on behalf of all the competitors. He took the bronze medal in the 1,500-m race, coming in behind Ron Delany (1935-) of Ireland, who won the gold medal, and Klaus Richtzenhain (1934-) of East Germany, who took silver.
  • Landy received many awards in recognition of his contributions to sport. He was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1955, and in 1985 he was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame. He was awarded a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2001, and in 2005 he was named a Legend of Australian Sport. He was also governor of Victoria from January 2001 until April 2006.

Other details

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  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
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  • Person: John Landy
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  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
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  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
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  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
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  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
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Learning Resource Type
  • Audio
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements.