Vale Ron Clarke
17 June 2015
AOC: Tributes have flowed for one of Australia’s greatest distance runners, Ron Clarke AO MBE, who died on Queensland’s Gold Coast. He was 78.
IOC President Thomas Bach sent a letter of condolence to the AOC and Australians:
"It is with great sadness that I learned of the passing away of Ron Clarke. A great distance runner who set 17 world records in the 1960s. Ron Clarke will forever be a legend in the sport of athletics.
On behalf of the entire Olympic Movement, I convey the sincerest condolences to you and the people of Australia. Our thoughts are with his friends and family and all those who he touched during his long and impressive career in sport. Please accept my deepest sympathy."
Clarke was a dual Olympian competing in Tokyo in 1964 where he won a bronze medal in the 10,000 metres and again at the 1968 Mexico Games where he finished 5th in the 5,000 metres and 6th in the 10,000 metres.
He was a dominant distance runner throughout the 1960s setting an amazing 19 world records (17 official and 2 unofficial).
Olympic champion Herb Elliott paid tribute to Clarke today saying “Ron was a great man. His contribution to athletics was enormous. He was also a wonderful contributor to public health through lifestyle programs and gymnasiums and the communities in which he lived. Ron will be greatly missed”.
Clarke was awarded the honour of lighting the flame at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, aged just 19.
Earlier that year he was involved in one of the greatest acts of sportsmanship ever witnessed on an athletic’s track when at the Australian Titles the great John Landy stopped during the Mile to help Clarke who had fallen on the track. Landy then resumed running and won the race.
Clarke was one of the original inductees into the Sport Australia Hall Of Fame in 1985 and in more recent times served as Mayor of the Gold Coast with distinction.
Athletics Australia President David Grace QC offered the following comments upon notification of the sad news.
“Today is a very sad day for athletics in Australia, with news of the passing of legendary runner Ron Clarke after a battle with illness. On behalf of Athletics Australia, and indeed the whole athletics community, I extend my sincere condolences to Ron’s family and friends.
“Ron will forever be a legend of our sport and we are grateful for his extensive contribution to the sport of athletics, as well as to public service during a life that should be celebrated.”
Chairman of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, John Bertrand, said today "Ron Clarke was not only known as a world class athlete but a man who contributed enormously to the community."
Olympic bronze medallist John Landy AO CVO MBE, said today "I was very saddened to hear of Ron’s passing this morning, he was a great star in the sport of athletics and a wonderfully kind and generous man. I extend my deep condolences to his family and friends.
“Ron Clarke, by his running feats inspired Australian distance runners and in a world sense, demonstrated the potential athletics achievements possible."
AOC and ATHLETICS AUSTRALIA