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1954: Bannister breaks four-minute mile

VIDEO : Full footage of the race

Roger Bannister, a 25-year-old British medical student, has become the first man to run a mile in less than four minutes.

His time was 3mins 59.4 seconds, achieved at the Iffley Road track in Oxford and watched by about 3,000 spectators.

Bannister, once president of the Oxford club, was running for the Amateur Athletic Association against his old university during their annual match.

The race was carefully planned and he was aided by two pacemakers, Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway.

Brasher took the lead as the first pacemaker, Bannister slotted in behind, with Chataway in third place.

When Brasher began to feel the strain, Bannister signalled for Chataway to take over.

Just over 200 yards from the finish, Bannister took the lead with a final burst of energy. He sprinted to the line in record time and fell exhausted into the arms of a friend, the Rev Nicholas Stacey.

Pandemonium broke out when spectators heard news that Bannister had officially beaten the four-minute mile.

He had prepared for the race the previous week at Paddington Green in London in high winds.

The weather at Iffley Road was not ideal for record-breaking - a 15mph crosswind with gusts of up to 25mph meant that Bannister nearly called off the attempt.

Bannister has beaten his main rival to the record - Australian athlete John Landy.

Both had run quite close to the time but the magic number four had proved elusive until now.

In Context
Australian John Landy bettered the Iffley Road record the following month with a time of 3 minutes 57.9 seconds, but Bannister will always be remembered as the man who ran the "miracle mile".

The current fastest mile record is held by Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj, who ran a time of 3 minutes 43.13 seconds in Rome, Italy, on 7 July 1999.

At the end of 1954, Bannister retired from running to pursue his medical studies full-time and later became a consultant neurologist.

He continued to run to keep fit until he broke his ankle in a car accident in 1975, the same year that he was knighted.


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