A look back at the life of Sir Roger Bannister (1929-2018).

The world of athletics has today been grieving following of the death of Sir Roger Bannister. 

Bannister, who passed away at the age of 88, became the first man to run the mile in less than four minutes.

His time of 03:59.4 instantly gave him legendary status within the sport.

His story is one of perseverance, redemption and ultimately much joy and happiness. He inspired generation upon generation and was often looked up to as one of the great pioneers of British athletics.

Tributes have poured in from some huge names – including IAAF President Lord Seb Coe – to commemorate Bannister’s life as both a runner and for his work as a world renowned neurologist.

Here’s a look back at the glistening career of one of British sport’s biggest stars.

bannister.jpg
Sir Roger Bannister (1929-2018). Image Credit: AP via. http://metro.co.uk/2012/07/25/back-sir-roger-bannister-to-light-the-olympic-cauldron-the-tipster-508200/.

Bannister was born in Harrow on 23rd March 1929.

He took up running at the age of 17 and was considered to represent Great Britain at the 1948 Olympics in London, but at the time he didn’t feel ready to compete at such a high level.

He was subsequently inspired by the games and set himself a target of competing at the next Olympics, hosted by Helsinki, four years later.

However, things didn’t go to plan for the Brit in the Finnish capital.

Bannister scrapped through his 1500m semi by finishing fifth, before ending the Olympic final fourth and out of the medals.

Feeling down, deflated and defeated after his disappointing result, Bannister almost gave up with athletics. But after taking a two-month sabbatical, he instead gave himself a new goal: to become the first person to ever run the mile below four minutes.

Using his own cleverly devised training programme, his times showed significant improvements throughout 1953 and early ’54.

The historic moment took place on 6th May 1954 at Iffley Track in Oxford, where he finished six hundredths of a second clear of four minutes. Scenes of celebrations followed, but they were to be short-lived.

Finland would once again came back to haunt him as fierce rival John Landy broke his world record run just 26 days later in Turku with a time of 03:58.0

The rivalry between the Briton and Australian led to one of the most anticipated mid-distance races in history at the 1954 Commonwealth Games in Vancouver.  Built up as the ‘Miracle Mile’, Bannister would end up triumphant on this occasion, with a personal best of 03.58.8.

A bronze statue of the two racers can still be found in the Canadian city.

Towards the end of 1954, Bannister retired from athletics and was awarded a CBE 12 months later for his contribution to the sport.

Following retirement, he focused on studying in Medicine, and went on to become a successful neurologist. He felt his 40 years practising in neurology was a more important and more significant acccomplishment in life than his achievements on the track.

Bannister was knighted in 1975, and also became the first chairman of what is now known as Sport England.

In 2002, the British public voted in a poll conducted by Channel 4 that Bannister’s sub-four minute mile was 13th in the list of  ‘100 Greatest Sporting Moments’.

In 2011, Bannister revealed he was suffering with Parkinson’s Disease in a interview with the BBC, and he died peacefully surrounded by his family on 3rd March 2018.

RIP Sir Roger. You will be surely missed.

 

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