Champion runner Sir Roger Bannister dies at 88

Will we ever run a three-minute mile?

He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2011.

On a windy late afternoon in Oxford on May 6, 1954, Bannister ran four laps on a cinder track in 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds to crack the mythical 4-minute mile - a feat many had thought humanly impossible.

The junior doctor's incredible feat of athleticism at Iffley Road track in Oxford all those years ago spurred on further generations of runners to keep bringing down the record time.

The record lasted just 46 days, as Landy ran 3:57.9 in Turku, Finland, on June 21, 1954. Supposedly, the smartest and most plugged-in observers had concluded that human beings simply were not capable of running a mile in less than four minutes, and so Bannister's having done it was not only a historic achievement, but a scientific one too. Bannister later wrote of the final moments of the race: "I felt at that moment that it was my chance to do one thing supremely well". He clocked in at 3 minutes 59.4 seconds, a record at the time.

"I felt pretty exhausted at the end, but I knew that I would just about make it", he told reporters.

The British athlete's death was confirmed by family on Sunday in a statement to BBC News. "The four-minute time sought by every great miler for 20 years was beaten by the slim, sandy-haired medical student in a dual meet at Oxford University".

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He would lose his place as the only sub-four minute runner just over a month later, but got revenge on new world record holder John Landy at the 1954 Commonwealth Games in Vancover in a race dubbed the Miracle Mile.

Six weeks later, on August 7, 1954, Bannister and Landy faced off at the British Empire Games in Vancouver.

That set the stage for the showdown between Bannister and Landy at the Empire Games, now called the Commonwealth Games, in Vancouver, British Columbia on August 9, 1954.

Bannister capped his brilliant summer of 1954 by winning the 1,500 meters at the European Championships in Bern, Switzerland, in a games record of 3:43.8. Sports Illustrated named him its first "Sportsman of the Year". He was knighted in 1975 for his service as the first Chairman of Britain's Sports Council, according to The Telegraph.

The current record for the quickest mile is held by Moroccan legend Hicham El Guerrouj who recorded a time of three minutes and 43.13 seconds in Rome on July 7, 1999. "Sir Roger Bannister showed that barriers are there to be broken and there are no limits".

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