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  • Jim Bailey

    Looking for confirmation on the death of Jim Bailey on April 1, 2020. Australian Olympian in the 800 metres in 1956. Ran for U Oregon and won an NCAA title in the 1955 mile. We can't confirm this. Does anyone have any definite evidence of this. He lived in the US in the Pacific Northwest, but I haven't found an obituary.

  • #2
    ran the first sub-4:00 on U.S. soil


    • #3
      as of last year, at least, he lived in Bellingham, Washington, which may narrow your search


      • #4
        Originally posted by gh View Post
        ran the first sub-4:00 on U.S. soil
        In the Los Angeles Coliseum.


        • #5
          I can't confirm, but anyway, here's a short biography written by local historians in his home town of Parkes:


          • #6
            Facebook friend who lives in Eugene posted a couple of days ago that Bailey just passed away at age 90. The friend is a former Duck and well connected, so I think it is true. Nothing to corroborate it though.
            Last edited by mcgato; 04-05-2020, 01:10 AM.


            • #7
              stats from a reader who was a good friend of Bailey's

              Bailey turned 90 on July 21, 2019 and became the first and only sub-four miler to reach the age of 90. James Bailey died on Tuesday March 31, 2020 at the age of 90 yrs-8 months-10 days in Bellingham WA. On Sunday April 5th, 2020, Zbigniew Orydal became the second sub-four miler to attain the age of 90 and next Sunday, April 12, John Landy will reach the same milestone. Before the month is over Roger Moens will reach the same age bringing the 90 yr old club membership to three - all born in the same month 90 years ago.


              • #8
                Interesting statistics. Thank you. I'm sure there will be more to join this club over the next five or so years.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by mcgato View Post
                  Facebook friend who lives in Eugene posted a couple of days ago that Bailey just passed away at age 90. The friend is a former Duck and well connected, so I think it is true. Nothing to corroborate it though.
                  Thanx, McGato - DOD = 31 March 2020, POD = Bellingham, WA also confirmed by Paul Jenes (from Australia - President of ATFS). Here is his note to me this AM

                  During the ‘50s and ‘60s Australia produced a procession of the world class milers, including John Landy, Merv Lincoln, Herb Elliott and Albie Thomas. A lesser known was 1956 Olympian Jim Bailey who passed away aged 92 last week (March 31) in Bellingham in Washington State.

                  Jim Bailey was an Olympian, Commonwealth Games representative and two-time Australian champion, but he will mostly be remembered for an extraordinary race in Los Angeles in May 1956.

                  Born in Sydney, Bailey grew up in the central-west NSW town of Parkes where his father was a health and buildings inspector with Parkes Municipal Council. After a decade in the country, the family moved to Hurstville in Sydney which allowed Bailey to pursue his running by joining the local St George Athletics Club. Aged 19 at the 1949 Australian Championships on the SCG he tied for first in the 880 yards with WA’s David White. Bailey was now being mentored by St George great Alleyn Gainsford and he advised Bailey not to compete in a required rerun, due to his youth. Bailey handed White a walkover, settling for the silver medal.

                  Hailed as a future champion, the studious Bailey turned to his Engineering studies in 1950. But he returned with vengeance to win the 1951 national 880 yards title. Later that year he accepted an invitation to live and train in Paris with French miler Michael Clare. But Bailey found the European winter harsh, with snow covered training tracks and limited races. He returned to Australia for the 1952 national championships but was out of form and finished second in the 880 yards to Don McMillan who earned the prized 1952 Olympic Games berth. Bailey was determined to represent Australia and in 1953 took a job as an engineer on the Snowy River Hydro-Electric Scheme, an ideal place to train on the hills and slopes.

                  Ahead of the 1954 Empire Games, in addition to McMillan, John Landy was emerging, another threat to Bailey’s ambitions. At the 1954 national championships Bailey won the half-mile but remained short of the standard for selection. He chased the standard in Melbourne and then finally in a setup race in Sydney he ran 1:52.8 to secure selection.

                  Around the world in 1954 the chase for the first sub-4 minute mile was hotting up. At the Australian Championships, Bailey was starting to show promise over the four laps, placing second to John Landy and securing a place for the Empire Games in a second event. In Vancouver, Bailey won his 880 yards heat, but in doing so broke a bone in his foot. His Games were over and he had to sit and watch his 880 yards final and the Miracle Mile between Roger Bannister and John Landy, a race, Bailey had been due to compete in.

                  Immediately after the Games Bailey accepted an invitation to study Geology for two years at the University of Oregon. Bailey spent the first three months in a cast recovering from the broken foot, but soon he was up and running and making progress under the great coaching of Bill Bowerman. He ran a significant 800m PB of 1:51.0 and won the 1955 NCAA mile title in a PB 4:05.6.

                  Bailey was in terrific form in early 1956, setting an Australian indoor mile record. World mile record holder, John Landy was touring America to promote the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. A major highlight of the tour was a mile race on May 5 in the Los Angeles Coliseum. It was setup as a Landy V Ron Delany match race where the 40,000 spectators were hoping to witness the first sub four-minute mile on US soil.

                  Ron Delany, 20, a Villanova University student from Ireland had been undefeated in nine-mile races in 1956, while Landy had twice threatened his own mile world record of 3:58.0, with two runs of 3:58.6 during the Australian season.

                  At the time of the Los Angeles race, only five athletes had ever run sub-4 minutes, Landy, Roger Bannister, Laszlo Tabori (HUN), Chris Chataway (GBR) and Brian Hewson (GBR).
                  Jim Bailey was quietly confident after preparing for the race at a local track meet where he ran 49.0 (440y), 1:52.0 (880y) and 4:05.0 (mile).

                  The experts were divided, with 24 tipping Landy and 10 Delany. Only six suggested a sub-4 time. Uncharacteristically Ron Delany led early, passing the first lap in 59.6 ahead of Landy with 60.6. Landy then took over the lead for the next two laps passed in 2:02.3 and the bell in 3:01.5. Delany was close with 3:03. A sub-4 minute mile looked likely. But to everyone’s surprise the unknown Australian Jim Bailey started moved through the field, passing Delany on the back straight and then unthinkably Landy on the last bend. Bailey had run 55.5 on the last lap and clocked 3:58.6 to record the second fastest time in history and first sub-4 minute mile on US soil. Landy ran 3:58.7 and Delany well back in 4:05.5. Watch this amazing race:

                  With the Olympics late in the year, Bailey was preparing well in the US summer. In September he smashed Landy’s Australian 800m record running 1:48.8. Back in Australia for the 1956 Olympic trials in October, Bailey was unstoppable, winning the 800m and 1500m events and being selected in both events. In Melbourne the 800m was first up for Bailey and he coasted through the heat in 1:51.0. In the semi-final he tripped at the start, but recovered well and was looking strong until at 600m he was checked and faded badly to a non-qualifying seventh place. Five days later was the 1500m and 30 minutes before the start Bailey walked into the Australian dressing room and told team-mate Merv Lincoln “I’m not running. I’ve got hay fever. I couldn’t go two laps.” The room went silent. A team-mate Doug Stuart tried to convince him to run, but Bailey was adamant. He had tested himself earlier in the day and had difficulty breathing. Ironically Ron Delany, who Bailey had easily defeated in May, went on to take gold in the 1500m.

                  After the Games, Bailey returned to American and ran during the 1957 and 1959 seasons. He remained in the US, recently living in Bellingham in Washington. He was in failing health and passed away in hospice care on March 31. His death was not related to coronavirus.

                  David Tarbotton for Australian Olympic Committee

                  Tarby is one of my Olympic stat group also, who first spotted the suspicion of Bailey's death


                  • #10
                    Interesting medical article in Lancet (Sept 15, 2018) by Tufts Cardiology Dept studying the first 20 sub 4:00 min milers (1954-1960) from 14 countries. Of these 20 runners 90% experienced "longevity of 80-88 years of life. They exceeded life expectancy tables by average of 12 years. They concluded that the myth of athletes in all sports who perform extreme physical training and achievements do not have a detriment on their cardiovascular system and it did not impair their quality or duration of life.

                    The 20 athletes included the likes of Ron Delany, Jim Baily, Laszlo Tabori, Roger Moens, Murray Halberg, and Don Bowden (only USA member), and Herb Elliott.
                    Obviously their are some who did not make the list, eg, recently Peter Snell and Tom O'Hara from this past year. There are obvious other factors such as genetic, environment, socioeconomic, and now pandemics


                    • #11
                      20 is a pretty small sample size to try to draw any conclusions from that study


                      • #12
                        You are right Bambam 20 "patients" is pretty small sample. Having nothing to do all day, I decided to expand the data and the trend is still favoring a long life for sub four minute milers.
                        1) I took the ten years from Roger's first record (1954-1963)
                        2) There were 41 runners who broke 4:00 for their first time. 23 are still alive and 18 have passed away
                        3) The 23 who are still alive range from 80-90 years old now (average is 84.3 years)
                        4) The 18 who have passed away range from 55-90 years old (average is 78.5 years) But of the 18 only 4 passed away earlier than expected (55 yr, 57 yr, 61, yr and 65 years of age). If you subtract these four from the 18 who have died the age range is 77-90 (average age 83.9).

                        I agree that the sample is still small but after 1964 there are many sub four milers still alive.
                        I would say the sub 4:00 mile group have a good chance to make it to over 80 years which places most of us with only a few years to go.