John Landy

Wollangarra’s patron is John Landy, the former Olympic track athlete, Victorian Governor and naturalist.

Landy was a member of the Australian Olympic team at both the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki and the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne.

On 21 June 1954, at an international meet in Finland, Landy became the second man to achieve a sub-four-minute mile, recording a world record time of 3:57.90. That record held for more than three years.

Worldwide, Landy is probably best known for his part in a mile race in the British Empire Games at Vancouver in August 1954. Landy ran his second sub-four-minute mile but lost to Roger Bannister, who ran his best ever time. This meeting of the world’s two fastest mile runners was called ‘The Miracle Mile’. It was heard on 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.

In 1955, Landy was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his services to sport.

In Australia, Landy is remembered for his performance in the 1500 metres final at the 1956 Australian National Championships prior to the Melbourne Olympic Games. During the race, Landy stopped and doubled back to check on fellow runner Ron Clarke after another runner clipped Clarke’s heel, causing him to fall. Clarke, the junior 1500 metre world champion, who had been leading the race, got back to his feet and started running again, followed by Landy. 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. 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.

Between 1971 and 1978, Landy served on the Land Conservation Council of Victoria, contributing to debates and recommendations about the balanced use of public land across Victoria. An avid naturalist, Landy has written two books on natural history, Close to Nature: A naturalist’s diary of a year in the bush and A Coastal Diary: A study of one of Australia’s wildest and most beautiful coastlines.

On 1 January 2001, Landy was sworn in as the 26th Governor of Victoria, a position he held until his retirement on 7 April 2006.

In 2000, Landy was awarded the Australian Sports Medal. In 2001, he was awarded the Centenary Medal and was made a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC). In 2006 he was appointed a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) during the Queen’s visit to Australia.