Legendary Australian athlete and former Gold Coast Mayor, Ron Clarke has died aged 78

Clarke and his wife Helen in 2007. Photo: Bradley Kanaris/ Getty.

Olympic athlete Ron Clarke has died, aged 78, after a short-term illness.

Clarke, a Commonwealth and Olympic games medallist, and former Gold Coast mayor, died in a Southport hospital earlier today.

Clarke was one of Australia’s best middle and long distance runners, having set 17 world records during the 1960s.

He won silver in the three-mile race at the 1962 Commonwealth Games, a bronze medal in the 10,000 metres at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and two silver medals at the 1966 Commonwealth Games for the three- and six-mile races.

He collapsed while challenged for the lead in the 10,000m at the 1968 Mexico Olympics and damaged his heart. It wasn’t properly diagnosed until the 1980s.

His athletics career involved several memorable moments, most notably, one of the greatest sporting gestures ever seen after Clarke tripped over during a race at the 1956 Australian National Championships and fellow runner John Landy stopped to help Clarke back up before going on to win the race.

Clarke was a teenager and not competing in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, but carried the flame into the stadium and lit the torch. He burnt his hand and missed the Opening Ceremony.

Among the many accolades he earned from running, were his appointment as a Member of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of service to athletics in 1966 and an inductee into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1985.

Clarke was Mayor of the Gold Coast from 2004 to 2012. He stepped down to stand as an independent in the Queensland elections but was unsuccessful.

In 2011, Clarke was also part of the lobbying delegates, which included former Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, which secured the 2018 Commonwealth Games for the Gold Coast.

In 2013 he was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia, 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 married to Helen for 56 years and had two sons Nicolas and Marcus, and a daughter Monique, who died in 2009.

Here are some images of the late Ron Clarke, Australian athlete, politician and great man.

Here is Clarke preparing for a race at the White City Stadium, London in 1960.

Allsport UK /Allsport via Getty.

Clarke (left) leads Dick Taylor of England and Lachie Stewart of Scotland during the 10,000 Metres at the British Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, 1970. Clarke finished the race in second behind Stewart.

Keystone/ Hulton Archive/ Getty.

Clarke carries the Queen's Baton during the Opening Ceremony for the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games at the MCG in 2006.

Cameron Spencer/ Getty.

Clarke lights the Olympic Flame during the 50th anniversary of the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games at the MCG in 2006.

Quinn Rooney/ Getty.

Clarke recieves the Queens Baton from triathlon champion Emma Snowsill as part of the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games Queen's Baton relay in 2010.

Bradley Kanaris/ Getty.

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