One of American Track & Field’s earliest contributors, Jeff Benjamin, forwarded this link from the London Telegraph (http://www.facebook.com/ext/share.php?sid=60889762846&h=O96tY&u=hnLmd&ref=mf) on who the telegraph called, ‘perhaps the Greatest Living Englishman’,
Sir Roger Bannister.
In the piece, it was nice to note that, at 80, Sir Roger is able to run, he calls it “shuffling” again. He was in an auto accident in 1975 and was unable to run again until he found a simple running shoe used by Kenyan athletes. Now, he runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Sir Roger Bannister was the first man to break four minutes for the mile on May 6, 1954, at Iffley Road Track at Oxford University. The weather that day was far from perfect, but Bannister and his training cohorts, the late Chris Brasher, and Chris Chattaway, persevered. His time of 3:59.4, was considered the athletic equivalent of reaching the peak of Mt. Everest. It gave the British people, who were still suffering from the effects of the second World War, something to cheer about.
Bannister had done the unthinkable. In 1939, the late Brutus Hamilton, one of the great coaches in American athletics, had written his list of untouchable records. I found this, published in 1958, I believe in one of the little Black Books, a compendium of track esoterica. Hamilton firmly believed that 4:03 was probably as fast as a man could run.
We wish Sir Roger Bannister a very happy, if belated 80th birthday and hope that he has many more! His run, and his book, the First Four Minutes, affected most runners for his conviction, his focus and his ability to do the unthinkable-breaking four minutes for the mile, and helping the sport of athletics conquer its Mount Everest.
For more on what Sports Illustrated called ‘the original Sportsman’, please click http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/ban0bio-1.