Tue, Mar 06, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Bannister, first to run sub-4-minute mile, dies aged 88

AFP, LONDON

Record-breaking British athlete Roger Bannister, the first man to run a mile in under four minutes, has died aged 88, his family announced on Sunday.

“Sir Roger Bannister died peacefully in Oxford on 3rd March 2018, aged 88, surrounded by his family, who were as loved by him as he was loved by them,” his family said.

“He banked his treasure in the hearts of his friends,” the family added, in a statement published by the Press Association news agency.

Bannister gained global sporting glory on May 6, 1954, when he ran 1 mile (1.6km) in 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds at the Iffley Road track in Oxford.

International Association of Athletics Federations president Sebastian Coe said Bannister’s death marked “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 both on and off the track,” tweeted Coe, who won two Olympic gold medals in the 1980s.

Coe was speaking at the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham, England, where spectators saluted Bannister with a minute’s applause as the lights were dimmed after footage of his running career was shown on giant screens.

Then, as a mark of respect to Bannister, no competition took place for a further two minutes.

Half a century after Bannister’s record, the Royal Mint celebrated the occasion by issuing a 50 pence coin showing an athlete’s running legs against a stopwatch.

British Prime Minister Theresa May described Bannister as “a great British sporting icon whose achievements were an inspiration to us all.”

“He will be greatly missed,” she wrote on Twitter.

Despite being famed for breaking the four-minute barrier, Bannister said he felt a greater sense of achievement after winning gold at the 1954 Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, Canada, beating his great rival Australian John Landy in a race later dubbed the “Miracle Mile.”

“I think that racing in the Olympics and Commonwealths is more important than breaking records,” Bannister said in 2014. “Vancouver was the pinnacle of my athletics career. It is very difficult to break records during Olympic competition, but winning races was better than holding world records.”

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