On February 24, 2022, after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease, John Landy died at the age of 91 at his home in Castlemaine, Victoria, a small city about 120 kilometres northwest of Melbourne.
According to his son, Matthew Landy, “Dad passed away peacefully on Thursday surrounded by what he loved most: his family and the Australian bush. He was a wonderful father, a loving husband and we feel privileged to have been a part of his remarkable life.”
I (Tom Locke) first met John Landy in his role as Commissioner – General for Australia at Expo 86 in Vancouver during a charity run I was participating in. I found him attentive, humble and blessed with a great sense of humour. He was a little taken back that I knew his birthday was April 12 – but that was easily explained as that was my grandfather’s birthday as well and he reminded me about the ”Landy connection” on a number of occasions.
John Landy was one of those people you meet in life who makes an indelible impression. By the time we met again in August of 1993, I had found out a lot more about this man seen on the left gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated on May 21, 1956 (photo credit – Mark Kaufmann). At that time he was still the world record holder for the mile run at the official recognized time of 3:58, a time that would hold up until July 1957.
However, many Australians remember John Landy for another remarkable feat, one that took place during the 1500 metre run at the Australian National Championships in 1956 prior to the Melbourne Olympics.
In the third lap of this race there was a spill with Ron Clarke, the then-junior 1500 metre world champion, going down. Landy stopped running and doubled back to make sure Ron was up and okay. Landy then went on to catch the rest of the field and win the race – yet another, “miracle moment in time.” Said the National Centre for History and Education in Australia, “It was a spontaneous gesture of sportsmanship and it has never been forgotten.”