Four-minute mile man Roger Bannister passes away

Four-minute mile man Roger Bannister passes away

Sir Roger Bannister, famed for being the first runner to break the four-minute-mile barrier, died Saturday in Oxford, England.

But it is hard to exaggerate the landmark significance to athletics when, more than 60 years ago, Bannister ran a mile (1.6 kilometres) in a time of three minutes 59.4 seconds on the old cinder surface at Oxford University's Iffley Road athletics track.

Bannister, though, was prouder of his British Empire and Commonwealth Games gold medal from the same year, when he defeated Australia's John Landy in a race dubbed the "Miracle Mile", while he viewed his academic achievements in neurology as greater than his exploits on the track.

Lord Coe, who followed in Bannister's footsteps by breaking the mile world record three times, paid tribute to an inspirational man, describing him as a "giant".

Australian running legend John Landy wasn't bothered at coming second to Roger Bannister. Bannister even used his medical knowledge to devise his own training regime and investigate the mechanical aspects of running.

It had always been thought that a sub 4-minute mile was far from achievable and perhaps deadly for those who tried.

Later in 1954, Bannister retired from athletics to focus on his study of medicine at the University of Oxford, eventually becoming a neurologist. "Although I tried in 1953, I broke the British record, but not the 4-minute mile, and so everything was ready in 1954".

"But I was not aggrieved at all by the fact that I missed the first one".

"Around the last bend, I think the crowd was making so much noise he couldn't hear whether I was behind, or whether he'd dropped me, and he looked over his left shoulder, and I passed him on his right shoulder", Bannister said.

Landy led his rival late in the race. The current women's world record holder is Russian athlete Svetlana Masterkova with a time of 4 minutes, 12.56 seconds set on August 14, 1996 in Zurich.

He campaigned against drugs in sport and was responsible for helping develop the first tests for anabolic steroids.

Bannister's death was announced while the World Indoor Championships were taking place in Birmingham, where Sebastian Coe, the IAAF president and himself one of Britain's greatest athletes, having won two Olympic 1500 metres gold medals in the 1980s, summed up his importance to the sport. "There is not a single athlete of my generation who was not inspired by Roger and his achievements both on and off the track".

Bannister also served as master of Oxford's Pembroke College from 1985-93. That will never go away, Sir Roger Bannister - he's the man to do it first. Chataway died in 2014 at 82.

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