Roger Bannister dies aged 88: family statement

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.

FILE PHOTO: Sir Roger Bannister walks over the same finish line at the Iffley Road running track in Oxford that he crossed fifty years ago when he was the first man to run the sub four minute mile, May 6, 2004. REUTERS/David Bebber/File Photo

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.

FILE PHOTO: Sir Roger Bannister, who ran the first sub-four-minute mile in 1954, holds the stop watch used by Harold Abrahams to time the race during 50th anniversary celebrations at Pembroke College, Oxford, May 6, 2004. REUTERS/David Bebber/File Photo

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

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