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John Landy, second man to break 4-minute mile, dies at 91

John Landy

(Original Caption) 8/9/1956-Melbourne, Australia: Just a pace behind world mile champion John Landy, 19-year-old Ron Clarke, shown here when Landy broke the four-minute mile at melbourne’s Olympic Park, is being touted as a new champion among the Australian runners. beginning to race only two years ago, Ron has already knocked 12seconds off his time in running the mile this season.

Bettmann Archive

Australian John Landy, the second man to break the four-minute barrier in the mile, has died at age 91, according to Australia’s track and field federation.

Australian media reported that Landy had a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

Landy ran a mile in 3:57.9 on June 21, 1954, just 46 days after British rival Roger Bannister became the first man to break four minutes. Landy’s time was faster, and he held the world record for three years.

Before that, Landy said he ran a mile in the 4:02s on six occasions between late 1952 and March 1954, according to World Athletics.

“The four-minute mile was an enormous sort of goal to a lot of people, but in my mind it was unlikely that I would run it or anyone would run it,” Landy said in 2004, according to World Athletics. “I was much more interested in running the fastest time.”

Bannister, who ran in the same 1500m heat as Landy in the 1952 Olympics, was startled by those times as he trained to break four minutes.

“Landy made no secret of the fact that the four-minute mile was his goal,” Bannister wrote in “The First Four Minutes.” “The race for the four-minute mile had really begun.”

After both men broke four minutes, they raced each other in August 1954 in Vancouver at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games (later shortened to the Commonwealth Games). The clash was dubbed “The Miracle Mile.” Bannister won in the first mile race where two men broke four minutes.

Landy later won a bronze medal in the 1956 Olympic 1500m and served as Governor of Victoria from 2001-06.

Bannister died in 2018, seven years after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s.