Sir Roger Bannister reveals Parkinson's disease battle

Roger Bannister It is almost 60 years since Sir Roger Bannister ran a sub-four-minute mile

Related Stories

Sir Roger Bannister, the first man to run a mile in less than four minutes, has revealed he has Parkinson's disease.

Sir Roger, 85, made sporting history with his landmark run at Oxford's Iffley Road track on 6 May 1954.

The former neurologist said: "I am having troubles with walking. Ironically, it's a neurological disorder - Parkinson's disease."

He was diagnosed with the condition three years ago.

'Gentle irony'

Sir Roger told BBC Radio Oxford: "I have seen, and looked after, patients with so many neurological and other disorders that I am not surprised I have acquired an illness.

"It's in the nature of things, there's a gentle irony to it.

"I am being well looked after and I don't intend to let it interfere - as much as I can.

"Just consider the alternatives - that is the way I look at it. One of my pleasures in life, apart from running, has been walking. Intellectually I am not [degenerating] and what is walking anyway?"

Roger Bannister about to cross the tape at the end of his record breaking mile run at Iffley Road, Oxford Sir Roger had planned to retire at the 1952 Olympic Games if he won the 1500m - he came fourth

Sir Roger shocked the world when he ran a mile in three minutes 59.4 seconds to become the first person to break the four-minute barrier.

Bannister was helped by Sir Christopher Chataway and Chris Brasher, who acted as pacesetters.

Parkinson's disease

  • It is a neurological condition where nerve cells in the brain die
  • Around one in every 500 people in the UK have the disease
  • There is no known cure, but drugs can help with treatment
  • People with the condition lack a chemical called dopamine, so movements become slower
  • Symptoms include shaking, slow movement, and inflexible muscles, which can make it difficult to walk, write, or do up buttons.

Brasher died in 2003 after a short illness and Chataway died from cancer in January.

Bannister may be best remembered for the sub-four minute mile, but he said his 1954 Commonwealth Games gold medal was the pinnacle of his athletics career.

The Vancouver Games were held only months after he broke the four-minute barrier, but the race was made all the more important as his chief adversary, Australia's John Landy, had broken his famous record 46 days before.

'Special race'

Bannister took the title in a Games record 3:58.8, leaving Landy, who clocked 3:59.6, to take the silver.

"The race between the two of us was a very, very special race," he said.

"It determined which would be regarded as the superior runner in history."

Six decades on, he has warned a breakthrough in the fight against Parkinson's could still be some way off.

"I know quite a lot about it and have treated a lot of people with it," he said.

"I am aware of all the research that's been done. I think it will take some time before there is a breakthrough, but the management and drug treatments are improving all the time."

Parkinson's UK chief executive Steve Ford said he was "saddened" to hear the "much-loved sporting legend" was being treated for the disease.

"One person every hour in the UK will be diagnosed with Parkinson's," he said.

"We applaud Sir Roger and his decision to speak publicly about his diagnosis at this stage in his long life."

More on This Story

BBC Oxford

Weather

Oxford

21 °C 13 °C

BBC Local Live

  1.  
    NEWS ON THE HOUR 15:00: Bethan Phillips Newsreader, BBC Radio Oxford

    A 49-year-old homeless man has pleaded guilty to setting fire to a series of cash machines in Banbury.

    Colin Aries set fire to three cashpoints in the high street in June - and also set fire to Freemasons Hall in the town. More with me at 15:00.

     
  2.  
    Church Visit 14:56: Lilley Mitchell Reporter, BBC Radio Oxford

    Today I was at St Mary the Virgin Church in Ewelme. Their flower festival starts tomorrow and they are also remembering their World War One fallen.

    Flowers at St Mary the Virgin Church in Ewelme

    Plus they have a new servery in the church - there will be a dedication of it by the Archdeacon of Dorchester on Sunday.

     
  3.  
    Running out of time 14:22:

    Organisers of Vitality's Oxford Half Marathon expect the race to be full by the middle of September.

    More than 5,000 runners have signed up, with 6,000 spots left for the race, which takes place on 12 October.

    Vitality Oxford Half Marathon

    Entries are selling at "350 to 450 per week". Andrew Taylor, race director, said: "We are delighted to see that the race is growing in popularity."

     
  4.  
    Festival fun 14:10: Thame Gazette

    Big crowds descended on Towersey Festival for the 50th year running to enjoy the famous folk vibe.

     
  5.  
    NEWS ON THE HOUR 13:59: BBC Radio Oxford

    A 49-year-old homeless man has pleaded guilty to setting fire to a series of cash machines in Banbury.

    Colin Aries set fire to three ATMs in the high street in June, and also set fire to the Freemasons Hall in the town. Listen live.

     
  6.  
    On the programme now 13:44: BBC South Today

    On South Today with Roger Finn right now, find out about the handguns, machetes and knives recovered by police in a pond, and watch as the Royal Navy says farewell to the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious after 32 years of service.

    HMS Illustrious decomissioned

    Plus we find out if a 94-year-old man has broken his own world record for wing walking. Tune in to BBC One.

     
  7.  
    Pubs set for defibrillators 13:35: Oxford Mail

    A brewery is looking at where best to equip its Oxfordshire pubs with life-saving defibrillators.

     
  8.  
    Sign up for the team 13:20:

    Oxfordshire FA tweets: #Chinnor Ladies FC are recruiting new players aged 16+. Come along and give it a try

    Chinnor Ladies FC
     
  9.  
    HEALTH WARNING 13:06: Wantage Herald

    Asbestos deaths are set to reach a record high in Oxfordshire in the next six years, it has been warned.

     
  10.  
    NEWS ON THE HOUR 12:55: Bethan Phillips Newsreader, BBC Radio Oxford

    Britain remains "deeply elitist" with many of the country's top jobs being held by people who went to private schools and Oxbridge.

    It's the warning from the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, which found that half of the members of the House of Lords and a third of the Cabinet went to fee-paying schools. I'll have more at 13:00.

     
  11.  
    Jamie Anderson interview 12:40: Dave Gilyeat BBC News

    On Kat Orman's show after 13:00, Jamie Anderson, the son of the late, great, Gerry Anderson, will be in to talk about the charity Dementia Friends and his father's battle with Alzheimer's.

    Jamie Anderson with Thunderbirds 2 model

    Gerry Anderson created the hit shows Thunderbirds, Stingray, Joe 90, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, and Terrorhawks, to name just a few.

    He died in 2012 aged 83.

     
  12.  
    CUSTOMER COMPENSATION 12:30:

    Earlier Phil Gayle asked if you've ever been compensated for registering your dissatisfaction as a customer, and if so what did you get?

    David James Stuart Hall writes on Facebook: Train companies - I was delayed by 2 hours on the way back from the Lake District over the summer, got £100 in vouchers from them.

    Victoria Wills ‏tweets: nothing! Once waited 40 minutes for a prawn sandwich with hardly any prawns, not so much as a free glass of water!

     
  13.  
    STATION UPGRADE 12:19: Oxford Times

    Completion of an £8m scheme to redevelop the forecourt at Didcot Parkway rail station is set to be completed in the next fortnight.

     
  14.  
    ECO-TOWN APPLICATION 12:09: Alex Therrien BBC News Online

    The first of a series of planning applications have been submitted for a so-called "eco-town" in Oxfordshire.

    An artist's impression of how North West Bicester might look

    A2Dominion wants to build up to 6,000 energy-efficient homes on land north west of Bicester in the next 20 years. The site is one of four across England identified for potential "eco-towns".

    Outline planning permission is being sought for up to 2,600 zero-carbon homes, care apartments for elderly people and 4,700 sq m (50,590 sq ft) of commercial space.

     
  15.  
    NEWS ON THE HOUR 11:58: Paul Jenner Newsreader, BBC Radio Oxford

    Long-running roadworks on the Wiltshire and Oxfordshire border have been a "nightmare" for people living nearby - according to the parish council. More at 12:00.

     
  16.  
    MAKING UP TO DO 11:51:

    TVP Roads Policing tweets: Chk this AM, Abingdon. Driver stopped, compact in 1 hand, make up brush in other, no hands on wheel.

     
  17.  
    CANCER PATIENTS WITH DEPRESSION 11:38: Smitha Mundasad Health reporter

    Oxford research suggests three quarters of cancer patients who are clinically depressed do not get the psychological therapy they need.

    Picture of woman with head in hands Some studies suggest depression can affect the chances of surviving cancer

    This "huge unmet need" is partly due to a focus on physical symptoms at the expense of good mental healthcare, researchers say.

    They argue depression is often overlooked but could be treated at a fraction of the cost of cancer drugs.

    Macmillan Cancer Support called the current situation "heartbreaking".

     
  18.  
    'Medieval mash-up' 11:27:

    Dr Matthew Cheung Salisbury of Oxford University has been talking about working with dance music pioneer Goldie on bringing a piece of medieval music to life.

    He said: "Working with Goldie has been a fascinating process. When I played him the classical recordings of the medieval music, he immediately began to get a feel for individual motifs and strands of melody that he then knits together to form a song.

    "It is surely a first for a DJ to sequence and mash-up medieval music!"

     
  19.  
    'We need you' 11:14: Danny Cox Presenter, BBC Oxford

    Oxford United's CEO has urged fans to replicate the atmosphere they created at West Brom for Saturday's League Two clash at home to Dagenham.

    Oxford United watch penalties

    A huge travelling contingent of more than 2,000 supporters were at the Hawthorns and they witnessed a battling display from the team which only saw them knocked out on penalties.

    Mark Ashton has asked for similar backing at the Kassam Stadium as United look for their first points, telling BBC Radio Oxford that the passion shown made a significant impact on their performance.

     
  20.  
    NEWS ON THE HOUR 10:57: Paul Jenner Newsreader, BBC Radio Oxford

    A two-year deadlock over rent rises at Oxford Covered Market could be broken if both sides agree to an increase of 16%.

    That was the suggestion at a public meeting last night. Traders want Oxford City Council to agree not to backdate the increase though. More with me at 11:00.

     
  21.  
    OPEN ALL HOURS? 10:44: Phil Gayle Breakfast presenter, BBC Radio Oxford

    The Sunday Trading Act came into force on this day 20 years ago in 1994, allowing all shops in England and Wales to open legally on a Sunday for the first time, but restricting opening times of larger stores.

    shopping bags

    This morning a new poll for Retail Week shows that two decades on, just over half of consumers believe further relaxation of the rules would benefit high streets. Would you like to see all shops open all the time on a Sunday? Is Sunday special any more for you? Email us and let us know.

     
  22.  
    GOING FOR GOLDIE 10:35: Dave Gilyeat BBC News

    Electronic music artist Goldie has been working with an Oxford University professor to give a piece of recently-discovered medieval music new life.

    Goldie

    The DJ's composition, which includes sampling, medieval chants and a cello, is inspired by the Hawick Missal Fragment, an extract reconstructed by Dr Matthew Cheung Salisbury of Oxford University's Music Faculty. It premieres on 30 August at Glasgow Cathedral.

     
  23.  
    CONGESTION EASING 10:25: Sara Dumbell Travel presenter, BBC Radio Oxford

    Earlier temporary traffic lights caused congestion on the A4130 between the A34 at Milton and Didcot, but that's definitely easing now.

    It's also much better on the A34 southbound from Marcham to Milton, though still a bit heavy on all approaches to Milton Hill.

     
  24.  
    Looking ahead 10:13: Dave Gilyeat BBC News

    Our news team are looking ahead at the top prospects for Thursday.

    Adina, Liz and Ali

    Running through ideas for the day's programming are Adina Campbell (TV producer), Liz Green (mid-morning producer) and Ali Dawes (news editor).

     
  25.  
    COMING UP today 09:59: Malcolm Boyden Mid-morning presenter, BBC Radio Oxford

    Yesterday I met a very inspiring little boy and his mum and dad, Andrew and Sally, in Abingdon.

    skye

    Skye is only five but a year ago he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. You might know him actually - he's turned a playground craze into a world famous charity campaign with his Loom to the Moon project.

    Boxes and boxes of loom bands kept arriving at the door while I was there! Hear more from 10:00.

     
  26.  
    OXBRIDGE 'ELITISM' 09:54: Judith Burns Education reporter, BBC News

    The UK is "deeply elitist" according to new analysis of the backgrounds of more than 4,000 business, political, media and public sector leaders.

    Judges procession at Westminster marks start of legal year

    Small elites, educated at independent schools and Oxbridge, still dominate top roles, suggests the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission study. It says key institutions do not represent the public they serve.

     
  27.  
    ON AIR 09:38: Phil Gayle Breakfast presenter, BBC Radio Oxford

    Our top story is a drop in hate crime in Oxfordshire. We're hearing from a victim about how her life was turned upside down by it.

    And a year's supply of fruit cake and a book of stamps are some of the things UK companies have offered people who've complained, according to a survey. What have you've been given when you've complained? Let me know.

     
  28.  
    ARSON ATTACK on hay 09:20: Oxford Mail

    About £20,000 worth of hay has been burned in an arson attack near Wantage.

     
  29.  
    TOP HEADLINES
     
  30.  
    WANTAGE WALK 09:09:

    The Vale and Downland Museum in Wantage has arranged a guided health walk today.

    Walking for Health starts from the coffee shop at 10:00.

     
  31.  
    NEWS ON THE HOUR 08:57: Paul Jenner Newsreader, BBC Radio Oxford

    A jury in the trial of a man accused of stabbing a teenager to death in Oxford will continue its deliberations this morning.

    Connor Tremble, 17, suffered multiple stab wounds at his home in Fairacres Road in February. He died from his injuries two days later.

    Connor Tremble

    Will Blencowe, 21, from Banbury, denies murder. Two other men on trial accused of helping him deny perverting the course of justice. I'll have more at 09:00.

     
  32.  
    Bridge reopens 08:42: BBC Radio Oxford

    The operator of the Whitchurch Bridge says it appreciates the impact the closure has had on people's lives.

    Whitchurch Bridge

    The toll bridge across the River Thames has been closed since October for major reconstruction work but is due to reopen next month.

    Geoff Weir from the Whitchurch Bridge Company said: "We'll all be very relieved when it reopens - we've always said we very much regret the inconvenience to people."

     
  33.  
    POLICE ROADBLOCK 08:27: Sara Dumbell Travel presenter, BBC Radio Oxford

    There are solid queues on the A34 southbound due to a reported rolling roadblock by police from the Marcham to the Milton Interchange.

    There are problems on the A4130 with temporary traffic lights between the A34 at Milton and Didcot. They weren't due to be there until 09:30 so it's being looked into. They are causing 25-minute delays both ways.

     
  34.  
    DEVON BEAT OXFORDSHIRE 08:16: Danny Cox Presenter, BBC Oxford

    It was agony for Oxfordshire's cricketers after they lost by seven runs to Devon in the final of the Minor Counties Trophy.

    Devon win Minor Counties Trophy

    Set 204 to win at Wormsley, near Watlington, the game went the distance, but Oxfordshire were unable to collect the runs they needed and finished on 196-9 after their 50 overs.

    Oxfordshire captain Luke Ryan said: "It's the first time we've got here... It's fantastic we've been here, we've tasted [it], we've got very close to coming over the line, so we'll definitely come back."

     
  35.  
    SOME SHOWERS later 08:07: Bee Tucker BBC Weather

    There's a bit of mist and low cloud at the moment. This should lift through the morning and we should start to see some sunny spells.

    As we go through the later part of the morning and into the afternoon, we'll also get some showers feeding in. There's going to be a fairly brisk southwesterly wind which will pick up through the course of the day.

    There will be the odd heavy burst of showers but I suspect most will be fairly light, and some of us should keep the dry and bright weather through the afternoon. Highest temperatures around 20C (68F).

     
  36.  
    GOOD MORNING 08:00: Dave Gilyeat BBC News

    Welcome to BBC Local Live, and a happy Thursday to you all. I'll be bringing you the latest news, sport, travel and weather from across Oxfordshire today.

    You can get in touch and tell us what you're up to via email, Facebook or Twitter.

     

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.