Roger Bannister, Runner Who Broke Four-Minute Mile, Dies at 88

Sir Roger Bannister Dies at 88; Was 1st Person to Run a Mile in Under 4 Minutes

Roger Bannister's death at the age of 88 prompted a host of emotional tributes to athletics' great barrier breaker on Sunday with the sport's senior figure, Sebastian Coe, saluting him as the "man who made the impossible possible".

"Sir Roger Bannister, died peacefully in Oxford on 3 March, aged 88, surrounded by his family who were as loved by him, as he was loved by them", the statement read.

Aided by British team-mates Sir Christopher Chataway and Chris Brasher as pacemakers, Bannister achieved the world's first sub-four minute mile by running three minutes 59.4 seconds.

Bannister's record, for its part, stood for just 46 days before Australian John Landy succeeded in covering the distance in 3:57.9.

Later in 1954, Bannister won the 1,500 meters at the European Championships in Bern, Switzerland, in a games record of 3:43.8.

Coe, who had learned the news just before the launch of a new IAAF Heritage initiative created to showcase the sport's former greats such as Bannister, said:"This is a day of intense sadness both for our nation and for all of us in athletics". He was an inspiration to so many, being the first man to break the 4-minute mile.

Bannister, who was knighted in 1975, went on to a career as a neurologist and watched through the years as other runners ran ever-swifter miles. "Life has its physical challenges, but I take every day as it comes", he said.

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Additionally, the legendary runner also competed in the 1952 Olympics.

"It's fantastic that more people have climbed Mount Everest than have broken the 4-minute mile", Bannister said in an interview with The Associated Press in 2012.

Bannister and Landy then competed at the Empire Games, now called the Commonwealth Games, in Vancouver, British Columbia on August 9, 1954.

He retired from competitive running and he then had a full-time career in neurology.

"That to me is a greater source of satisfaction than happening to move my body at a certain speed for a few moments in 1954", he said in a 2012 interview with the New York Times. "My medical work has been my achievement and my family with 14 grandchildren".

"There is not a single athlete of my generation who was not inspired by Roger and his achievements both on and off the track".

Women's marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe tweeted: "Saddened to hear the news that we have lost one of the true pioneers, trailblazers and iconic inspirations of our sport". With his wife, Moyra Jacobsson, a portrait painter and daughter of a Swedish economist, he had four children.

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