Former Gold Coast mayor Ron Clarke
Former Gold Coast mayor Ron Clarke

Ron Clarke remembered as champion of sport and politics

LEGENDARY athlete and former Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clarke has died on the Gold Coast after a short illness.

Family this morning confirmed Mr Clarke, 78, died about 2am at the Allamanda Hospital in Southport, the Gold Coast Bulletin reported.

Despite maintaining a strong fitness regime throughout his life, Mr Clarke had been struggling with his health and was not as mobile after an accident since his retirement from public life in 2012.

He was injured during a regular walk along the Broadwater about a year ago but his recent poor health was related to ongoing challenges with heart and kidney disease.

Mr Clarke was regarded as one of Australia's best middle and long distance runners having set 17 world records during the 1960s.

One of his greatest political achievements was helping to secure the 2018 Commonwealth Games for the Gold Coast.

Ron Clarke remembered

Ron Clarke was one of the best known middle and long distance runners in the 1960s.

His brother Jack Clarke and father Tom played Australian rules football in the Victorian Football League with Essendon.

In 1956, when Clarke was still a promising 19-year-old, he was chosen to light the Olympic Flame in the stadium during the opening ceremonies of the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne.

He settled for the bronze medal in the 10,000 m at the 1964 Summer Olympics when he was upset by Billy Mills, but never won an Olympic gold medal.

At the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, Clarke collapsed and nearly died from altitude sickness sustained during the grueling 10,000 m race final.

In the 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games he won silver in the 3 mile event, and in the 1966 Games he won silver medals in the 3 miles (4.8 km) and 6 miles (9.7 km) events.

During a 44-day European tour in 1965, he competed 18 times and broke 12 world records, including the 20,000 m (12.4 miles).

On 10 July, at London's White City Stadium, he became the first man to run three miles in under 13 minutes, lowering the world record to 12:52.4.

Four days later, in Oslo, he lowered his own 10,000m world record by 36.2 seconds to 27:39.4, becoming the first man to break the 28 minute barrier.

Ron Clarke's political career

He was elected Mayor of the Gold Coast, Queensland in 2004, defeating the incumbent Gary Baildon.

Clarke and his wife, Helen, first came to the Gold Coast for a holiday in 1957. 

Clarke resigned as Mayor of the Gold Coast on 27 February 2012, when he announced his nomination to run as an independent candidate for the seat of Broadwater in the 2012 Queensland state election.

He failed in this campaign, coming fourth and recording only a 4.6% primary vote.

His awards and honours

In 1966 Clarke was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) "In recognition of service to athletics".

In the 2013 Queens Birthday Honours List, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) "For distinguished service to the community through a range of leadership roles with local government and philanthropic organisations, and to the promotion of athletics."

Clarke was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1985.[6]

In 2005 Geelong Athletics honoured Clarke with an athletics meet to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Clarke breaking the world record for the 20,000 m and one hour run at Landy Field in October 1965. This meet is held annually as part of the Athletics Australia National Meet Series.

In 1982, awarded Victorian Father of the Year.

Source: Wikipedia

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