Roger Bannister

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Sir Roger Gilbert Bannister, CBE (born 23 March, 1929) is an English former athlete best known for running the first recorded mile in less than 4 minutes. Bannister became a distinguished neurologist and Master of Pembroke College, Oxford, before retiring in 2001.

Sir Roger was the inaugural recipient of the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year award in January 1955 (1954 Sportsman of the Year).


Early life

Roger Bannister was born in Harrow, England. He went to Vaughan Primary school in Harrow before going onto be educated at the City of Bath Boys' School, University College School, London, Exeter College and Merton College, Oxford, and at St Mary's Hospital Medical School (now part of Imperial College London).

Early running career

Bannister was inspired by miler Sydney Wooderson's remarkable comeback in 1945. Eight years after setting the mile record and seeing it surpassed during the war years by the great Swedish runners Arne Andersson and Gunder Hägg, Wooderson regained his old form and challenged Andersson over the distance in several races. Wooderson lost to Andersson, but set a British record of 4:04.2 in Göteborg on 9 September.

Like Wooderson, Bannister would ultimately set a mile record, see it broken, then set a new personal best slower than the new record.

Bannister started his running career at Oxford in the autumn of 1946 at the age of 17. He had never worn running spikes previously or run on a track. His training was light, even compared to the standards of the day, but he showed promise in running a mile in 1947 in 4:24.6 on only three weekly half-hour training sessions.

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