By finishing third behind the great Vladimir Kuts of the USSR in the 10,000 metres at Melbourne 1956, Allan Lawrence won Australia's first long distance medal in an international athletics event. Lawrence's medal was also the first of the 13 gold, 8 silver and 14 bronze medals Australia won at Melbourne. He later defeated Kuts in a heat of the 5000m but a leg injury precluded his running in the final that was ultimately won by Kuts. Lawrence competed at Rome 1960 but was unplaced or did not finish in the 5000m, 10,000m and marathon. He was the first Australian to break 14 minutes for the 5000m and 29 minutes for the 10,000m. In the United States Lawrence was the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) cross-country champion in 1959 and 1960 and was also a successful indoor runner.