Roger Bannister, runner who broke the 4-minute mile, dies aged 88 | News | DW | 04.03.2018
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Roger Bannister, runner who broke the 4-minute mile, dies aged 88

British athlete Roger Bannister, the first person to run a mile in under four minutes, has died aged 88, his family says. The feat is seen as one of the most important ever in sporting history.

Roger Bannister, who made history in 1954 by running a mile in less than four minutes, has died in Oxford, England, the city where he achieved what was one of the defining sporting achievements of the 20th century.

In a statement on Sunday, Bannister's family said the former athlete had passed away peacefully, aged 88. He was "surrounded by his family, who were as loved by him as he was loved by them," the statement said.

Bannister, who was a medical student at the time, clocked a time of 3 minutes 59.4 second at a sports ground in Oxford on May 6, 1954, to beat a record by Swedish runner Gundar Haegg of 4:01.4 that had stood for nine years.

Short-lived record

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

After retiring from competition, Bannister pursued a successful career in neurology. Among other things, he developed the first test for anabolic steroids as chairman of the Sports Council from 1971 to 1974. 

"None of my athletics was the greatest achievement," he once said. "My medical work has been my achievement and my family with 14 grandchildren. Those are real achievements."

 tj,jlw/rc (Reuters, AP)

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