Britain’s Sir Roger Bannister, the first athlete to run a sub-four minute mile has died at the age of 88, his family announced today.
Bannister became the first man to achieve the feat when he clocked 3:59 seconds in Oxford on May 6, 1954.
Six weeks later, John Landy of Australia lowered Bannister’s record to 3:58 setting up what was called ‘The Miracle Mile’ at the British Empire Games in Vancouver.
On August 7, 1954 the first ever clash of Landy and Bannister captured world-wide interest, the scene was set for history to be made.
From the start Landy was straight into the lead, passing the first lap in 58.2 seconds with Bannister sitting in second. Bannister seized the opportunity and in the final moments streaked ahead of Landy to victory in a Commonwealth record time of 3:58.8. Landy’s runner-up time of 3:59.6 marked the first time the four-minute mile had been broken by two athletes in the same race.
Bannister admitted in his autobiography “The four-minute mile, however final and perfect it had seemed at Oxford, now meant nothing unless I could defeat John Landy”.
That was Bannister’s last ever mile, retiring at the end of the season and being named Sports Illustrated’s first ‘Sportsman of the Year’.
Bannister went on to become a consultant neurologist, and viewed running as something to be done in his spare time.
He revealed he had the neurological disorder Parkinson’s disease in a BBC interview in 2014.
“I have seen, and looked after, patients with so many neurological and other disorders that I am not surprised I have acquired an illness,” he said at the time.
“It’s in the nature of things, there’s a gentle irony to it.”