Sir Roger Bannister


What a difference half a second made to the life of legendary British athlete Sir Roger Bannister.

His time of 3 minutes 59.4 seconds broke one of the biggest and most enduring barriers in Athletics history – the four minute mile.

Bannister achieved sporting immortality in 1954 at Oxford's Iffley Road Track in front of 3,000 spectators. But he very nearly didn't race at all that day. High winds buffeted Oxford for much of the afternoon and Bannister was only persuaded to go ahead with the attempt when the wind finally dropped before the 6pm start time.

Paced by two runners – Chris Chataway and Chris Brasher – who would themselves go on to great things, Bannister kicked for home with half a lap to go, completing his final lap in slightly under 59 seconds to break the four-minute barrier.

That record, so long in the making, lasted just 46 days before Australian John Landy ran 3.57.9. The two would later meet to compete for what was dubbed The Miracle Mile. Bannister won as both men once again dipped under the four-minute mark.

Sir Roger was knighted in 1975 and was the first chairman of The Sports Council (now Sport England) during which time he oversaw the first testing of steroids in sport.

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Sir Roger Bannister