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Finest Athlete

Sir Roger Bannister

Anyone who achieves the impossible deserves a stadium named after them.

Sir Roger Bannister

Hear more about Sir Roger Bannister's sporting achievements:

On the 6th May 1954, a twenty-five year old medical student from Oxford University ran three and a half times round the athletics track just off the Iffley Road, in a time that sent shockwaves across the athletics world.  Roger Bannister had achieved something that many people believed impossible, to run a mile in less than four minutes.  It was an historic event which will be remembered as one of the last glorious achievements of an amateur sport that would eventually be taken over by sponsorship and money.

In far from ideal conditions, Bannister completed a carefully planned race with the help of his two pacemakers Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway.  Around three thousand people were at the track to watch the great miler cross the finish line in a time of 3 minutes 59.4 seconds.  The record didn't stay unbroken for long - on 21 June, just a few weeks later, the record was again broken, this time by Australia's John Landy.

Sir Roger Bannister
Sir Roger Bannister

The same year, Bannister won gold at the Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, but Sir Roger has always maintained that his greatest achievements were accomplished during his years as a neuro-surgeon in Oxford and as Master of Pembroke College.  Sir Roger Bannister was knighted for services to sport in 1975, was given the Freedom of the City of Oxford in 2004, had his achievements commemorated with the minting of a special fifty pence coin in the same year and the Iffley Road Track is to be renamed in his honour later this year.

last updated: 18/05/07
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Oxfordshire's Finest Athlete




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