It was opportune that, with our whole School community gathered at Corio Campus on Sunday 10 September, we had the chance to celebrate and commemorate an exceptional Old Geelong Grammarian.

“It is both a privilege and a pleasure on behalf of School Council and our Chair Paddy Handbury (M’72) who is in attendance today, to announce that from this moment hence Geelong Grammar’s Main Oval will be renamed as John Landy Oval,” our Principal, Rebecca Cody, announced ahead of Sunday’s Whole School Athletics Day. Fittingly, the first event held on the newly-named John Landy Oval was a 1,500 metre race.

John Michael Landy AC CVO MBE FTSE (M’48) joined Geelong Grammar School in 1945 and was a School Prefect and House Captain of Manifold House in 1948. A promising athlete, John won the 440 yards, 880 yards and mile at School Sports Day in 1948 and went on to win the mile at the APS Combined Sports. John was the eldest of five siblings, and his two brothers Tony (M’53) and Richard (M’63) also attended GGS.

John Landy competing on Main Oval in 1948

After graduating with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science from Melbourne University, John took up a teaching position at Timbertop in Term 3, 1954 (less than four months after becoming the second man to break the four-minute mile) and left at the end of 1958 to work for the National Parks Authority of Victoria. He famously used the mountainous terrain at Timbertop as a training ground for the 1956 Melbourne Olympics (his second Olympics), where he took the Olympic Oath on behalf of all competitors and won a bronze medal in the 1,500 metres.

Before the commencement of the Athletics programme, Rebecca implored our students to chase their own “John Landy moments”, reminiscing on the race John is most-often remembered for — a moment held up for decades as the exemplar of selflessness and sportspersonship — the 1956 Australian Mile Championship when John stopped to assist Ron Clarke, who had fallen, before recovering to go on to win the race.

Later this year, with representatives of John’s family in attendance, we have plans to unveil a plaque noting this dedication.