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Three minutes and 59.4 seconds that stunned the world; MAN WHO DID THE IMPOSSIBLE:SIR ROGER BANNISTER 1929-2018; Tributes to record breaking runner who has died at age of 88.


Urged on by the 3,000-strong crowd, Roger Bannister burst into the lead with half a lap to go, sped on and with lungs at bursting point ran through the tape before falling into the arms of a friend.

Now it was down to the clock The tension was heart-stopping in the moments before the announcer revealed Roger had done what had once seemed impossible.

He achieved sporting immortality on that blustery and cold night in 1954 by becoming the first person in history to run a mile in less than four minutes.

Glowing tributes poured in yesterday to Sir Roger who died peacefully aged 88 after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2011.

The modest medic and athletics hero died surrounded by his family who said they were "as loved by him, as he was loved by them".

They added: "He banked his treasure in the hearts of his friends." Lord Coe, who also broke the mile world record during his career, said Sir Roger's run of 3min 59.4 seconds "lifted the heart of a nation and boosted morale in a world still at a low ebb after the war".

Lord Coe, 61, added yesterday: "This is a day of intense sadness both for our nation and for all of us in athletics.

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

He called Sir Roger "a giant", adding that the world's best had been trying to break the fourminute barrier for a quarter of a century.

Four-time Olympic champ Sir Mo Farah, 34, described Sir Roger as "always humble, supportive and encouraging".

Middle-distance Olympian Brendan Foster, 70, pointed out that more people have climbed Everest than run a four-minute mile.

He said Sir Roger's achievement would "remain for ever as a symbol of a great moment in British history".

Sir Roger was born in Harrow, North West London, in 1929. He attended the City of Bath Boys' School in Somerset and went on to study medicine at Oxford University. He fitted his running career around his medical studies and once said the ideal athlete was one who "enjoyed a few drinks and even the odd cigarette".

His sub four-minute mile was set at the Iffley Road cinder track in Oxford. It stood as a record for just 46 days but his place in history was assured.

In an interview in 2004 to mark the 50th anniversary of the race, Sir Roger said: "I remember what I had for breakfast. I can remember everything."

On the day he broke the record, the junior doctor firstly completed a shift at a hospital in London.

After arriving in Oxford on a train from the capital, he was unsure whether to run because there was a 15mph crosswind and gusts of up to 25mph. His coach talked him round and there was a lull in the conditions by the time Sir Roger, then 25, got to the start line at 6pm.

Chris Brasher was the early pacesetter, then Chris Chataway took over to maintain the blistering speed. Sir Roger recalled: "I was telling him to go faster, but he kept his head. My legs were driven by some unknown force."

After the stirring finish, announcer Norris McWhirter milked the moment to add to the suspense. He said: "First, R.G Bannister in a time which, subject to ratification, is a new track record, British native record Euro-p pean record, Commonwealth record and world record - three minutes" The crowd roared.

Sir Roger recalled: "My mind took over, compelling me forward, I felt the moment of a lifetime had come. I was overwhelmed.

t f com "I heard 'world record' and then 'three' the noise of the crowd obliterated the rest." He went on to win the 1954 Commonwealth title and a European Championship gold that year. He retired from the sport and became a distinguished neurologist.

In 2014, when asked what was his greatest achievement, he said "medicine, without a doubt." After being diagnosed with Parkinson's, he said: "I have looked after patients with so many neurological disorders that I am not surprised I have acquired an illness There's a gentle irony to it."

He married Moyra, an artist, in 1955 and the couple had four children. Sir Roger practised medicine for 40 years and was also a sports administrator.

He became the Sports Council's first chairman and was knighted in 1975 for services to sport. He was a leading campaigner against drug cheats.

Sir Roger died on Saturday at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, where he trained as a medical student.

His pace-setter Chataway became a world record holder too. He died in 2014 at 82. While pace-maker Brasher, who died in 2003, aged 74, co-founded the London Marathon in 1981.

Describing Sir Roger, London Marathon chiefs said yesterday: "For some the word 'legend' doesn't quite cut it."


This is a day of intense sadness both for our nation and for all of us in athletics. There is not a single athlete of my generation who was not inspired by Roger - SEB COE T b


GIFTED As medical student in 1949

DAD With wife Moyra and baby Carol

TRACK LEGEND Roger in 1971

TRIUMPH Athlete after run

TOP TEAM Brasher, left, Bannister & Chataway

FAST Spikes for record

GONG With Moyra and Companion of Honour award, 2017

Roger finishes historic race MAY 6, 1954
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Article Type:Obituary
Date:Mar 5, 2018
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