Sports

John Landy unfazed by coming second to Roger Bannister

John Landy unfazed by coming second to Roger Bannister

British Prime Minister Theresa May remembered Bannister as a "British sporting icon whose achievements were an inspiration to us all. He will be greatly missed".

"Sir Roger Bannister was more than simply one of the greatest athletes of all time _ by breaking the 4-minute mile he redefined what was thought impossible, and inspired the world".

He made headlines around the world at the age of 25. However, he was - and is - forever linked to three minutes and 59.4 seconds, the so-called "impossible" barrier broken at Iffey Road in Oxford on May 6, 1954.

In 1946, when he went to Oxford, his great ambition was to row against Cambridge in the annual boat race on the Thames. He won many mile and 800m races, and set his sights on the 1952 Helsinki Olympics.

Landy came second to the British great in the race to become the first man to break the four-minute mile.

His chance finally came on a wet, cool, blustery May afternoon during a meet between Oxford and the Amateur Athletic Association. In just a year, he showed his natural talent and ran a 4:24:06 mile on only three half-hour training sessions a week. "Although I tried in 1953, I broke the British record, but not the 4-minute mile, and so everything was ready in 1954".

In 1999, the record for the fastest mile was lowered to the time of 3 minutes 43.13 seconds, run by by Hicham El Guerrouj (pronounced el gah-roodge) of Morocco.

Landy rejected talk of Bannister breaking not only a time barrier but a psychological barrier.

The now-iconic photo of Sir Roger crossing the finishing line was splashed over front pages of newspapers around the world, ensuring no one would forget the softly spoken Englishman anytime soon.

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He enlisted the aid of his training companions and friends Chris Chataway and Chris Brasher, top athletes in their own right, as pacemakers. The London Marathon posted on Twitter: "For some the word legend doesn't quite cut it. Rest in peace Sir Roger Bannister".

After a false start by pacemaker Brasher, the field of six got away.

Then 210 meters from the tape he pulled out from behind Chataway to immortalize himself as the first sub-four-minute miler.

The record lasted just 46 days, as Landy ran 3:57.9 in Turku, Finland, on June 21, 1954. "Vancouver was the pinnacle of my athletics career". He became president of the World Sports Council in 1976 and in 1977 was the first Briton to win West Germany's Hans-Heinrich Siegbert prize for his services to sport.

Sir Roger went to the University of Oxford, where he studied medicine, then joined St Mary's Hospital Medical School in west London as a junior doctor before becoming a neurologist.

Bannister gave up his medical practice after a serious vehicle accident and devoted himself to research.

Amid the global frenzy about the mile title, Bannister completed his medical studies in June 1954 at St. Mary's Hospital Medical School in London.

His prediction that the mile record would be progressively lowered was born out in subsequent years.