British athletics great Roger Bannister dies aged 88

British athletics great Roger Bannister dies aged 88

Roger Bannister, the British athlete famed as the first man in history to run the four-minute mile, has died at the age of 88.

On May 6, 1954, Bannister became the first man to break the four-minute mile when he ran it in 3:59.4 seconds at a sports ground in Oxford. Bannister's record time only stood for 46 days before being broken by Australian runner John Landy, but Bannister's accomplishment forever changed the perception of what was possible in distance running.

Bannister also won gold at the Commonwealth Games in Vancouver later that year before retiring from athletics to pursue medical studies full-time.

Bannister was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2011.

"He banked his treasure in the heart of his friends".

"On May 6, 1954, Roger made the impossible possible", Coe, now the president of athletics' world governing body the IAAF, said on iaaf.org.

Lord Coe, who followed in Bannister's footsteps by breaking the mile world record three times, paid tribute to an inspirational man, describing him as a "giant".

British Prime Minister Theresa May led the tributes to the former athlete.

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.

What he achieved in medicine always took precedence over athletics for Bannister but for most, the abiding image of him will be that of him breaking the tape in Oxford to set a new benchmark in front of astonished onlookers.

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

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