Published: Mon, March 05, 2018
Sport | By Fredrick Flores

Four-minute mile record breaker Bannister dies at 88

Four-minute mile record breaker Bannister dies at 88

Sir Roger Bannister, the British athlete who became the first man to break the four-minute mile, has died in Oxford at the age of 88, his family have announced.

A family statement said Bannister died on Saturday in Oxford, England, where the legendary runner broke the barrier on a windy afternoon in 1954.

He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2011.

"On the 6 May 1954, Roger made the impossible possible", said Coe in quotes on the IAAF website.

The four-lap contest between Oxford and a British Amateur Athletic Association team around the quarter-mile Iffley Road Track took place in what the New York Times called "exceedingly unfavorable conditions" - a 15 mile-per-hour crosswind, with gusts of 25 mph. He had smashed the world record of 4 minutes, 1.4 seconds, set nearly nine years earlier by Gunder Haegg of Sweden.

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The junior doctor's awesome feat of athleticism at Iffley Road track in Oxford all those years ago spurred on further generations of runners to keep bringing down the record time. "I wanted to be a great British miler following in his footsteps".

Bannister's record time only stood for 46 days before being broken by Australian runner John Landy, but Bannister's accomplishment forever changed the perception of what was possible in distance running. The race is commemorated with a bronze statue of Bannister and Landy at the gate of the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver. He met with Sir Roger Bannister several times in the years before his death.

Bannister was also the first person to win the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year award when he earned the honor in 1954.

Bannister, who was knighted in 1975, went on to a career as a neurologist and watched through the years as other runners ran ever-swifter miles.

The current mile world record is held by Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj, who ran a time of 3:43.13 seconds in Rome on 7 July 1999. It was the first time two men had run under 4 minutes in the same race.

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