British athletics great Roger Bannister dies aged 88

Running legend Bannister dead

Previously for nine years, Swedish runner Gundar Haegg had the mile record of 4:01.4. Someone was going to break that barrier and it turned out to be him.

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.

The enduring image of the lanky Oxford medical student - head tilted back, eyes closed and mouth agape as he strained across the finishing tape - captured the public's imagination, made him a global celebrity and lifted the spirits of Britons still suffering through postwar austerity.

Bannister, who was knighted in 1975, went on to a career as a neurologist and watched through the years as other runners ran ever-swifter miles. "What a great period that must have been to be alive".

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.

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.

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"Vancouver was the pinnacle of my athletics career". Bannister's assault allowed mankind to enter a world filled with new possibilities.

Ladies and gentlemen, here is the result of event 9, the one-mile: 1st, No. 41, R.G. Bannister, Amateur Athletic Association and formerly of Exeter and Merton Colleges, Oxford, with a time which is a new meeting and track record, and which - subject to ratification - will be a new English Native, British National, All-Comers, European, British Empire, and World Record.

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. We have all lost a giant and for many a deep close friendship. "Nothing will top it; it will always be the most inspirational moment in our sport".

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

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

Globally, too, Bannister's legacy was enduring with the great US sprinter Michael Johnson crediting him as the inspiration behind his ground-breaking bid to combine the 200 and 400 metres.

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