It was the sixth day of May, 1954. The race was a one-mile run. The announcer proclaimed, "The time was three..." and the rest of his announcement was drowned out by the roar of the crowd. The time was three minutes, fifty-nine point four seconds. Roger Bannister had just become the first person to officially run a mile in under four minutes.*
As a young man, I had often heard of "the four minute barrier." Bannister clearly proved that not only records, but barriers are to be broken. Sport has moved on. No one runs miles these days; they run "kays." I have no idea what the current record is for the so-called "metric mile."** Nor do I know who holds that record, but Roger Bannister is a name that will live in my mind so long as my mind functions.
Bannister himself, by his own word, does not consider this accomplishment to be his greatest achievement. He is a medical doctor by profession, and he counts his research into the responses of the human nervous system to be his highest work.
Dr. Bannister still lives in his native England. Sir Roger is 85 years of age. He has been diagnosed with Parkinson's.
*Bannister's record held only 46 days. It was broken by John Landy. However in the 1954 Commonwealth games, Landy and Bannister went up against each other in the mile. Bannister took the gold in 3:58.8, Landy the silver in 3:59.6. And that was Sir Roger's proudest sports moment.
**Actually, a "metric mile" would approximate 1.6k, and I am not sure that that is even an "event" in track and field. Perhaps they run 1.5k. I have not much followed the sport since everything changed.
Joke: Did you hear the one about the marathon runner who told the proud 5k runner, "Your 5k is my cool-down."?