Roger Bannister: 1929-2018

We take a look back at the life of Roger Bannister, who has passed away at the age of 88.
We take a look back at the life of Roger Bannister, who has passed away at the age of 88.

Roger Bannister's four-minute mile record may not have lasted long but, following his death nearly 64 years on, he will forever be remembered for producing one of athletics' most iconic moments.

Bannister passed away on Saturday at the age of 88, a statement from his family confirmed.

Born on March 23, 1929 in Harrow, Middlesex, Bannister went to read medicine at Oxford before progressing to St Mary's Medical College, with athletics more of a casual pursuit for him.

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Despite only having around 30 minutes a day to practice, Bannister was able to reach some lofty stages, finishing fourth in the 1500 metres at the 1952 Olympics, winning gold over the same distance at the European Championships and in the mile at the 1954 Commonwealth Games.

But the pinnacle of his sporting career coming on May 6, 1954 at Iffley Road sports ground in a race that was almost cancelled due to windy conditions.

With American Wes Santee and Australia's John Landy also looking to break four minutes, Bannister made history with an incredible show of determination down the stretch to clock a time of three minutes and 59.4 seconds.

His effort would be bettered by Landy 46 days later, but Bannister's place in athletics folklore was secure.

"It had become rather like Everest, a challenge for the human spirit," Bannister said, reflecting on his achievement.

Yet for Bannister it was just one achievement in a life in which he also made a significant impact in the medical profession. He went on to become a leading neurologist and the Master of Pembroke College, Oxford.

A knighthood followed in 1975 for Bannister, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 2011 before being made a Companion of Honour in 2017.

What he achieved in medicine always took precedence over athletics for Bannister but for most, the abiding image of him will be that of him breaking the tape in Oxford to set a new benchmark in front of astonished onlookers.

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