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History of Geelong Athletics

Written by

Richard Lawysz

Formal athletics started in Geelong as far back as 1892 when Geelong Grammar School joined the newly formed Victorian Amateur Athletic Association (VAAA) with our first State champions being W.S. Jones (hammer) and J.D. McRae (pole vault) in 1894.


The first Victorian Championship event to be held in Geelong was the VAAA 5 mile Cross Country Championship held at the Geelong Racecourse in 1921.  In 2012, the Athletics Victoria Road Relay Championships being held at the Belmont Criterium on 11 August12.


December 1929 the Victorian Women’s Amateur Athletic Association (VWAAA) was founded with Geelong women taking part from the first official competition in 1930.


1956 Geelong had six representatives in the Melbourne Olympics – Ron Blackney, John Chittick, Robert Joyce, John Landy, Don MacMillan and John Vernon.


1961 saw the first track event held at John Landy Field (without top surface), with the first Geelong Centre meet being held in 1962 between Geelong Guild, Lara and Geelong Teachers College.


1964 –1966 saw the Geelong Centre assist in the formation of the Geelong Little Athletics Centre, the number 1 centre in Victoria.


1969 Geelong Centre hosted the VAAA Victorian Country Track & Field Championships and the Inter Centre Premierships for the first time at Landy Field.


1977 saw the laying of the ‘all weather’ rubberised bitumen track to replace the original cinder track.


1978 Geelong hosted the first ever, combined women’s and men’s Victorian Country Track & Field Championships, which for the first time attracted a major sponsorship from The Weekly Times.


May 1982 the Geelong Regional Centre was formed as a result of the merger of the Victorian men’s and women’s athletics associations.


1989 Geelong Regional Centre Incorporated in law as Geelong Athletics Inc.


1990 Geelong re-enters Melbourne’s top Interclub competition, A Grade as a combined Centre.


1992-93 Landy Field redeveloped into an International standard 8 lane track.


1995 Barwon River flooded Landy Field on Melbourne Cup day to such a level there was 6 inches(150mm) of water in the WJP Wood Pavilion.


1998 Geelong Athletics hosted the first round of State League (A Grade) to be held outside of Melbourne.


1999 saw the use of photo-finish for the first time outside Melbourne at the Country Championships.


2001 Geelong Athletics hosted the National Schools Knockout Final and continued to host a round of State League.


2002 Geelong Athletics conducted the Oceania Veterans Championships over 10 days in January.


2003 St Joseph’s Athletic Club decides not to re-affiliate with Athletics Victoria.


2004 Geelong Athletics purchases photo finish equipment and hosts the Victorian Country Track & Field Championships.


2005 Geelong hosts the Victorian Country Track & Field Championships under a different AV management structure, where AV received and processed all entries, the Centre providing the venue and the finances being distributed differently.

The first Ron Clarke Classic is held on 17 December with World 40+ 1 hour time trial record set at the meet by Steve Moneghetti.


2006 Landy Field is closed for major upgrade – track to become standard IAAF configuration.  Founding President of Geelong Athletics, Rudi Hochreiter passes away.


2007 Upgraded and reconfigured Landy Field re-opened for competition and training.


2008 Geelong hosts the National and All schools cross country championships at Eastern Park 23-25 August.

The fourth and final (under this name) edition of the Ron Clarke Classic was conducted on 22 November.

Richard Lawysz awarded inaugural Victorian Olympic Council Julius Patching Sports Official of the Year, Aril 2008.


2009 Geelong hosts the Victorian Country Athletic Championships (24-26 January) and the Australian Masters Games (21-25 February).


2010 Lighting installed at Landy Field in March.


2012 The Victorian Road Relay Championships held at Geelong in August. The first time this event has been held outside of Melbourne.

A 50th anniversary dinner held at Dromoland House on 7 December attended by 140 people including AV President, Ian Jones.  Richard Lawysz, Gabrielle Blythe and Richard Colman all spoke of their time at Geelong and in athletics.


2013 Geelong hosts the Victorian Country Athletic Championships (26-28 January)

Geelong hosts the Australian Masters Games in October.

Life Member and former Geelong Officials Club President, Wes Marshman passes away.


2014, Life Member Jack Darcy passes away.


2015, New hammer cage installed and new equipment shed erected at Landy Field.


2016, Geelong Athletics hosts the 2016 Victorian Country championships(22-24January).


2017, Life Member Ron Palmer passes away.

Chilwell celebrates its 50th Anniversary.


2017 John Landy Field Management Committee disbanded, management of Landy Field transferred to the City of Greater Geelong, John Landy Field Advisory Committee established.


2018 Pat Agg was recognised by Athletics Victoria with the 50 year service award.  Life Member Bob Fossey passes away.


Richard Colman, Olivia Hobbs and Richard Lawysz were selected to take part in the Commonwealth Games Queens Baton Relay along the waterfront in Geelong.  At the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, Geelong Athletics was represented by Damien Birkinhead, silver medallist Marty Jackson, as well as technical officials, Richard Lawysz, Lorraine Sawyer and Pauline Zuccolin.  At the World Junior Championships, Tampere, Finland, Geelong Athletics was represented by Christian Davis, Mia Gross and Harvey Murrant.

2019 Life Member Stuart Robley passes away.

2020 Geelong hosts the 2020 Victorian Country championships (25-27January).  Due to the COVID 19 pandemic, winter season cancelled and summer season severely curtailed with late start (Nov20) and limited events, resuming “normal” competition in Jan 2021 Twilight Trot and The Steigen Spectacular as well as schools’ athletics days also cancelled.

2021 City of Greater Geelong announce in their 2021-22 budget, Landy Field refurbishment and pavilion upgrade - $400,000 in 2021-22, $6 million over three years, 60th anniversary of first meet held at Landy Field.

2022 Warrnambool based club, Athletics South West “Turbines”, affiliates with Geelong Athletics Inc.  John Landy passes away 24th February.  Ian Chesterman, former Geelong Guild Athlete, is elected President of the Australian Olympic Committee.  Life Member Pat Agg passes away.  

October sees Landy Field flooded twice despite the Barwon River not breaching the banks – issue related to the incorrect use of the flood valves by City of Greater Geelong.


2023 Despite having two near season-ending flooding events Geelong hosts the 2023 Victorian Country Championships as well as the Mens Discus Throw event as part of the Maurie Plant event, a World Athletics Continental Tour Gold Meet and sees a new New Zealand record claimed.


2024 Post-flooding track repairs are made and an extension of WA certification is given for six months.   CoGG commits to the replacement of track and funding of facility redevelopment.   May – Lou Mirarchi is awarded Life Membership.   July – works commence to replace old ‘red’ track with new ‘blue’ track with grey inset.

Geelong baton relay group (1)
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