Britain's Roger Bannister, the first runner to break the 4-minute barrier in the mile, has died at age 88. Bannister's family said in a statement that he died peacefully on Saturday in Oxford. On a windy late afternoon in Oxford on May 6, 1954, Bannister ran four laps on a cinder track in 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds to crack the mythical 4-minute mile—a feat many had thought humanly impossible, reports the AP. "There is not a single athlete of my generation who was not inspired by Roger and his achievements both on and off the track," said Lord Sebastian Coe, the holder of a 3:47:33 mile he ran in 1981.
Indeed, Bannister's record stood for just 46 days, but as the BBC puts it, "his place in athletics history was assured." A medical student who went on to have a long and distinguished career as a neurologist, Bannister viewed running as more of a hobby, but used his medical knowledge to inform his training and break down the mechanics of running. A few months after his record in 1954, Bannister beat Australian rival John Landy in the "Miracle Mile" or "Mile of the Century" at the Empire Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, as both men ran under 4 minutes.
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