CLUB’S FIRST OLYMPIAN: DON KEANE 85yo passes away in home state of WA.



Many members, past and present, will be saddened to hear the passing in WA of Walker Don Keane. He was 85 years of age.


Don was our Club’s first Olympian; sixth in 1956 Melbourne Olympics 20km walk


Don Keane competed for the club for about 5 years from 1955- 1960 after representing Australia at the 1952 Helsinki Games; finishing 10th in the 10km Track Walk with a time of 47:37.0.


With Melbourne playing host to 1956 Olympic Games, Don moved east to attain the best competition he could. Gus Theobald befriended Don and for a time billetted him at his home as he organised residence. The club’ other top walker, George Nevitt, had just won the Australian 10km title, and along with the state’s other top walkers, Don set about getting selection for the Melbourne Olympics; achieving this goal and then finishing sixth in the Games 20km Walk.


Don began his sport as a promising middle distance runner but soon turned to walking; and in 1948 set a State Junior Record over the mile (1600m) walk. Improving rapidly, he quickly took the State Open record, and then the Australian Junior Record; all in his first season. He also won the State junior 5 miles (8km) cross country title.


By 1950 he had won the Australian Track Title in an Australian Record. He followed this with wins over the next two years; ensuring his selection for Helsinki.


He was very strong, preferring intensity training over quantity. He mixed weight work with daily calisthenics and exercises.


Many deemed he had the perfect style.


He had no formal coach, but listened to many peers, and to people like Percy Cerutty, Gus Theobald and Frank McGuire. He worked as a milkie; daily running behind his horse and cart as he did home deliveries in the early morning.


By the Melbourne Olympics, Don was training with New Zealander Norm Read and Williamstown’ Ted Allsop. An attempt on the World Record for 2 hours was organized for Ted just prior to the Games and Don wanted to be part ofit. During the event Don broke records for Victorian Australian and British Empire over 5 mile, 10km, 7 miles, 1 hour, 15km and 10 miles. He followed this up with Australian Records for 3000m and 5000m.


Don was a very good club person who contributed not only to walking but to other events such as club distance relays and


He continued walking and attempted to make the team for Rome but when this failed, he retired and soon after returned to Perth.


In Perth he became an IAAF judge and in later years took up coaching throwing events.


In brief;        Two Olympics :                   1952, 1956

                        Twelve National medals;   7 Gold, 2 Silver, 3 Bronze.

                        Three Victorian Medals;    1 Gold, 2 Silver.

                        Western Australian Titles.

                        Western Australian Records:

                        British Empire Records:

                        Australian Records: