At just six years of age, John Pryor would ride his bicycle 10 kilometres to school and then back.

At 11, he’d work 12-hour shifts on his grandparent’s farm at Harkness Road, Melton, stacking hay bales and cutting firewood with an axe at weekends.

The 79-year-old says he built up a lot of a stamina as a young boy. So when he went on to win several races as a professional runner, not many were surprised.

“I did a lot of physical stuff when I was younger, and when we had family get-togethers, they always had races for kids and I did pretty well in those,” Mr Pryor said.

He started running professionally in 1956, but his big achievements rolled in when he made a comeback in 1977 after taking a break for a few years.

In 1978, Mr Pryor broke four middle-distance running world records, and broke his own world record for the imperial mile.

The following year he was crowned the Victorian Professional Runners Association’s athlete of the year and best middle-distance runner.

But one of his proudest achievements, which is no longer running, was being on the founding committee of a western-regions sports Olympics.

He said it was a great way for the region’s youth to showcase their sporting skills and talents.

Mr Pryor was Melton mayor in 1970, and was instrumental in setting up a kindergarten in the area. He now lives in Albanvale with wife Lynne, and will celebrate his 80th birthday next year with his six children, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.