Four-minute mile record breaker Sir Roger Bannister dies at 88

Four-minute mile record breaker Sir Roger Bannister dies at 88

Sir Roger Bannister, the first runner to break the 4-minute barrier in the mile, has died at the age of 88.

To Cram and Coe, the man who now runs the sport as the IAAF president, Bannister's run of three minutes 59.4 seconds in Oxford was the nearly mythical tale which underpinned their own youthful athletics days.

Australian John Landy went faster in the following month with a time of 3:57.9.

Bannister and Landy then competed at the Empire Games, now called the Commonwealth Games, in Vancouver, British Columbia on August 9, 1954.

He died Saturday at 88 after a seven-year battle with Parkinson's disease. "He banked his treasure in the hearts of his friends".

No female athlete has ever cracked the four-minute mile. Someone was going to break that barrier and it turned out to be him.

"Sir Roger Bannister was a great British sporting icon whose achievements were an inspiration to us all".

"The first book I read was (Bannister's book) The Four-Minute Mile; my coach (Jimmy Hedley) used to get me to sit and watch that grainy film in the days before YouTube", said Cram.

British long-distance runner Jo Pavey, a former European champion over 10,000 metres, said Bannister was a "true hero". "I'd like to see it as a metaphor not only for sport, but for life and seeking challenges".

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

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

"I think that racing in the Olympics and Commonwealths is more important than breaking records", Bannister said in 2014.

Australian Landy led for most of the race but Bannister passed him on the final bend and won the race by almost a second, both men going under four minutes and Bannister running a career-best 3:58.8.

He also became the first chairman of the body now known as Sport England (formerly the Sports Council) and was knighted for his services in 1975.

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

IAAF President Sebastian Coe said Bannister's death represented a "day of intense sadness both for our nation and for all of us in athletics".

In 1955, he married Moyra Jacobsson, an artist.

Bannister returned to Oxford in 1985 to become Master of Pembroke College, a position he held until 1993.

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