LONDON (Reuters) – British athlete Roger Bannister, the first man to run a mile in under four minutes, has died aged 88, British media reported on Sunday, citing a statement from his family.
Bannister became the first man to break the four-minute mile when he clocked three minutes 59.4 seconds at a sports ground in Oxford on May 6, 1954.
British Prime Minister Theresa May led the tributes to the former athlete.
“Sir Roger Bannister was a great British sporting icon whose achievements were an inspiration to us all. He will be greatly missed,” she said on Twitter.
The Briton, who also set a British record on route to the 1500 meters final at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, was helped by pacesetters Christopher Chataway and Chris Brasher during his record-breaking run.
Australian John Landy surpassed Bannister’s record just a month later with a time of 3:57.9.
Bannister also won gold at the Commonwealth Games later that year before retiring from athletics to pursue medical studies full-time. He became a neurologist.
The current mile record was set by Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj, who set a time of 3:43.13 in Rome on July 7 1999.
Bannister was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2011.
Reporting by William James and Aditi Prakash; Editing by David Goodman and Toby Davis