Roger Bannister, First to Break the 4-Minute Mile, Dead at 88


Roger Bannister, the United Kingdom athlete who as a medical student six decades ago became the first person to run a mile in less than four minutes, has died, the BBC reported.

On May 6, 1954, Bannister became the first man to break the four-minute mile when he ran it in 3:59.4 seconds at a sports ground in Oxford.

Despite being famed for breaking the four-minute barrier, Bannister said he felt a greater sense of achievement winning gold at the 1954 Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, beating his great rival Australian John Landy in a race later dubbed the "Miracle Mile".

He died Saturday at 88 after a seven-year battle with Parkinson's disease.

"He banked his treasure in the hearts of his friends", they added, in a statement published by the Press Association news agency.

"The four-minute mile stood out".

"It will go on being broken until it gets down to 3:30", Bannister said in an interview with the Independent newspaper in 2004.

But Bannister's achievement has continued to inspire athletics enthusiasts, with the shoes he wore to break the four-minute barrier selling for a record.

The 1,500-meter race is usually run instead of the mile in worldwide competition. "Life has its physical challenges, but I take every day as it comes", he said.

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At the 1952 Summer Olympics, he finished fourth in the 1500-meter mile, setting a British record.

"We met when I was the youngest member of the first ever UK Sports Council set up in 1964 and he could not have been more welcoming or helpful".

Bannister was chosen as Sports Illustrated's first Sportsman of the Year in 1954.

Previously for nine years, Swedish runner Gundar Haegg had the mile record of 4:01.4.

After his racing career, Bannister went on to be a distinguished neurologist, working well into his eighties.

Brasher's son Hugh, London Marathon event director, said Bannister's achievement puts him "at the very top" of athletics' all-time greats.

"There is not a single athlete of my generation who was not inspired by Roger and his achievements both on and off the track", Coe tweeted.

"At the age of 88 he was still an active supporter of the University and we will miss him enormously".

Bannister married Moyra Jacobsson, an artist, in 1955. Bannister was knighted in 1975, and served as the Master of Pembroke College at Oxford University from 1985 until 1993.