Gold Coast Games legacy continues with Ron Clarke Griffith Futures Scholarship


Ron Clarke’s enduring legacy in Australian sport and his impact on the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games will continue through the Ron Clarke Griffith Futures Scholarship.

In honouring the memory of Ron Clarke AO MBE, Commonwealth Games Australia and Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games partner Griffith University have combined to introduce the scholarship which is designed to support two young indigenous student athletes to study at Griffith University, commencing in 2021.

Ron Clarke, who passed away in 2015 aged 78, was an Australian sporting icon.

A world junior record holder, Clarke lit the flame at Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games opening ceremony, won Olympic bronze in the 10,000m on Tokyo in 1964 and won three Commonwealth Games silver medals – the three-mile event at the Perth 1962 Games and in the three and six-mile events in the Kingston 1966 Games in Jamaica.

Setting 17 world records over distances from two miles to 20km, Clarke was one of the inaugural inductees in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.

Ron served as Mayor of the City of the Gold Coast between 2004 and 2012 and was instrumental in the Gold Coast being selected in 2011 to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games.


In 1966, mid-way through his running career, Ron was awarded a MBE for services to athletics; then in 2013, 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 remembered daily by those organising the 2018 Games – with staff, volunteers and visitors walking along a track, bordered by images of his running career, to enter the two buildings which housed the organising committee named in his honour.

Education was central to Ron’s life, in fact after lighting the Olympic flame and despite being one of the world’s best young middle-distance runners, he had a four-year hiatus in his athletics career as he completed his accounting degree.

Ron’s wife Helen says the family are thrilled that the scholarship is named after Ron because of his ideals and belief in the importance of community, education and sport.

“Ron always had a lot of time for community and young people and he believed wholeheartedly that sport and education went together,” Helen said.

“He was generous with his time and when he died I had many emails from [athletes from] overseas saying how Ron had spent time with them and encouraged them to continue with their sporting and education goals.”

Helen Clarke thanked Commonwealth Games Australia and Griffith University for funding the scholarship named in Ron’s honour.

“We are all very proud for his care of others and especially those who may be disadvantaged, so providing an education opportunity to two young students who may not otherwise have the opportunity would be very close to Ron’s heart,” Helen said.


Ron Clarke competing at the Edinburgh 1970 Commonwealth Games (Credit: Getty Images)

Announcing the scholarship in National Reconciliation Week, Commonwealth Games Australia CEO Craig Phillips said the initiative continues Ron’s important legacy and provides another opportunity for the benefits of the hosting a home Commonwealth Games to continue to provide meaningful support to aspiring young Australian athletes.

“The Ron Clarke Futures Scholarship provides an opportunity for us to work with Griffith University and to support indigenous student athletes. This is a group who often don’t have the opportunities to pursue their sporting and academic careers,” Phillips said.

“This scholarship program provides a meaningful opportunity for indigenous student athletes across Australia to connect with and embrace the Australian Commonwealth Games Team.”

“Furthermore, just as Ron’s life was enriched through sport, his legacy will continue to do the same, in this case by positively impacting the lives of two young Indigenous Australians through sport and education.”

Olympic gold medallist and Griffith Sports College Director Duncan Free OAM said the scholarship will provide an opportunity to athletes who may not have ever thought university study was an option.

“Australia has witnessed some remarkable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander athletes over the years and being able to assist with tertiary studies and career paths is something close to Griffith. Athletes can often find it financially challenging competing at a high level and study at the same time. This scholarship will allow this to happen and allow the athletes to achieve great things both in the field of sport and in the classroom.” Free said.

“The Griffith Sports College will work closely with Gumurrii, Griffith’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander support unit, in ensuring that the scholarship athletes are well supported throughout their university journey through to graduation, and beyond.

“The Sports College are proud of the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander athletes in the program and look forward to using this scholarship as a stepping stone to attract even more developing and high achieving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander athletes.”

The Ron Clarke Griffith Futures Scholarship will be established in trimester 1, 2021.

Two scholarships will be awarded to two students (one female and one male).

The value of each scholarship is $11,000 per year for the duration of their degree and/or a maximum of four years whichever is the lesser.

In order to be eligible for the Ron Clarke Griffith Futures Scholarship, applicants:

  • Must be an Australian Citizen.
  • Must be either, eligible for admission to any of Griffith University’s undergraduate degree programs in 2021 or be currently enrolled in any Griffith University’s undergraduate degree programs.
  • Must be a student that identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
  • Must be an elite athlete competing in a Commonwealth Games sport and be a member of the Griffith Sports College, or be eligible and have applied for membership.
  • Must be experiencing financial hardship and/or educational disadvantage.

The full criteria, including the tertiary admission requirements and application details, can be found below:

Applications for the 2021 Ron Clarke Griffith Futures Scholarship will open 20 July 2020, with the closing date for applications in February 2021.



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