The man who in 1954 ran the four minute mile
for the first time ever, breaking a psychological barrier
He was born on 23 March 1929 in Harrow, Middlesex, and studied medicine at Oxford. His abiding interest was running, and he came fourth in the mile at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. His knowledge of physiology led him to believe, contrary to received wisdom, that the four-minute barrier was physiologically beatable. Another runner in training with the same idea was his Australian rival John Landy.
On 6 May 1954, at Iffley Road just outside Oxford, Bannister broke the record and came in at 3 minutes 59.4 seconds. Two months later Landy beat his record.
In 1975 Bannister retired from running after an ankle injury, and was knighted. Sir Roger Bannister is now one of our leading authorities in athletic physiology. In recent years he gained some controversy by suggesting that African runners had a genetic ability to use oxygen better.