Roger Bannister, First to Run a 4-Minute Mile, Dies

Credit Associated Press

Roger Bannister, the first person to run a mile in less than four minutes, has died at the age of 88.

Half a century later after Bannister's record, the Royal Mint celebrated the occasion by issuing a 50 pence coin showing an athlete's running legs against a stopwatch.

His record lasted just 46 days as Landy ran 3:57.9 in Turku, Finland, on June 21, 1954. Bannister burst through to win the gold by crossing the line in 3 minutes and 58.8 seconds.

"But beyond that, he was part of that pioneering spirit which seemed to exist in the 1950s - with a new Queen on the throne, Everest being conquered, the new TV age and the idea that you could do anything you put your mind to in barrier-breaking". No woman has ever run the mile in less than four minutes.

Aided by British team-mates Sir Christopher Chataway and Chris Brasher as pacemakers, Bannister achieved the world's first sub-four minute mile by running three minutes 59.4 seconds.

"He was an inspiration to so many being the first man to break the 4-minute mile".

"Vancouver was the pinnacle of my athletics career". "There is not a single athlete of my generation who was not inspired by Roger and his achievements on and off the track".

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Mo Farah, the greatest British distance runner of all and one of the finest in the sport's annals, tweeted on Sunday:"I'm so sorry to hear the sad news about Roger Bannister". He met with Sir Roger Bannister several times in the years before his death. "He was an inspiration to so many". Bannister's assault allowed mankind to enter a world filled with new possibilities.

Coe told his audience:"On May 6, 1954, Roger made the impossible possible". It was as much of a psychological barrier as it was a physical barrier. It was a moment in history that lifted the heart of a nation and boosted morale in a world that was still at a low ebb after the war.

"I was very fortunate, Seb [Coe] and Steve Ovett would be the same, that we got to meet him on many occasions, but he never lost that aura. It is very hard to break records during Olympic competition, but winning races was better than holding world records".

British Prime Minister Theresa May described Bannister as "a great British sporting icon whose achievements were an inspiration to us all".

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

But Bannister and Australian rival John Landy as well as others were threatening to break it.

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