1950sHighlightsHistorySpecialsTrack And FieldWorld Records

Track + Field – 1954 – Special Feature – The Tale Of Roger Bannister And The 4 Minute Mile Barrier


Sir Roger Gilbert Bannister (23 March 1929 – 3 March 2018) was a British middle-distance athlete and neurologist….who ran the first sub-4-minute mile….who at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics set a British record in the 1500 meters and finished in fourth place. This achievement strengthened his resolve to become the first athlete to finish the mile run in under four minutes. He accomplished this feat on May 6, 1954 at Iffley Road track in Oxford….with Chris Chataway and Chris Brasher providing the pacing. When the announcer, Norris McWhirter, declared “The time was three…”….the cheers of the crowd drowned out Bannister’s exact time….which was 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds. He had attained this record with minimal training….while practising as a junior doctor. Bannister’s record lasted just 46 days.  

Bannister went on to become a distinguished neurologist and Master of Pembroke College, Oxford, before retiring in 1993. When asked whether the 4-minute mile was his proudest achievement….he said he felt prouder of his contribution to academic medicine through research into the responses of the nervous system.

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