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Herb Elliott

Herb Elliott

[el-ee-uht, el-yuht]

Herbert James ("Herb") Elliott AC MBE (born February 25, 1938) is a former Australian athlete, one of the world's greatest middle distance runners. He never lost a race over 1500 metres or the mile and during his career he broke the four-minute mile on 17 occasions.

Elliott, a "local" (native) of Perth, Western Australia, attended Aquinas College, in Perth. Aquinas College is renowned for its sport culture, and it was this culture that helped Elliott achieve such heights in athletics.

He set a new world record for the mile on August 6 1958 (3:54.5) at Morton Stadium in Dublin. Later that month he broke the 1500 metres world record in Gothenburg with a time of 3:36.0.

At the 1958 Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, Wales, he won gold in the 880 yards and the mile. Two years later, at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Elliott won the gold medal in the 1500 metres, setting a new world record as well (3:35.6).

Elliott credited his visionary and iconoclastic coach, Percy Cerutty, with inspiration to train harder and more naturally than anyone of his era. Cerutty was known to avoid the track, talk about role models outside athletics (like Da Vinci and Jesus), and bring his athletes to the unspoiled seaside beauty of Portsea training camp south of Melbourne, where Elliott would sprint up sand dunes until he dropped. "Faster," said Cerutty, "It's only pain."

Elliott retired from athletics in May 1961. He was once the CEO of Puma North America.

Elliott is the current Chairman of Fortescue Metals Group.

He was one of the bearers of the Olympic Torch at the opening ceremony of the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, and entered the stadium for the final segment before the lighting of the Olympic Flame.

Herb Elliott was recently ranked in Western Australia's 100 most influential people.

There is a biography covering his career, The Golden Mile (Cassell, 1961).

In the Queen's Birthday Honours List of 1964, he was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE). In the Queen's Birthday Honours List of 2002, he was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC). The citation read: For service to community leadership through the development of sport in Australia, continuing involvement in the Olympic movement at national and international levels, and as a supporter and benefactor of community and charitable organisations for youth, health promotion and cultural understanding.

He is an Australian Living Treasure.

References



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