Roger Gilbert BANNISTER

Grande-Bretagne GBR

  • Participations
    1
  • Première participation
    Helsinki 1952
  • Année de naissance
    1929
Résultats olympiques

Biographie

Roger Gilbert BANNISTER

At 6.03 pm on 6 May 1954, six runners set off in the mile race during the annual Oxford University versus the AAA race at the University’s Iffley Road track. A little over seven minutes later, with Roger Bannister collapsed into the arms of his fellow Olympian, the Reverend Nick Stacey, the trackside announcer, Norris McWhirter, of Guinness Book of Records fame, announced to the crowd: “The result of event number six, the one mile, winner R. G. Bannister of Exeter and Merton Colleges, in a time which will be a new English record, a new track record, a new British Empire Commonwealth record, a European record, a world record - in three…” The rest of the time could not be heard above the cheering and applause of the crowd, who had witnessed the breaking of the one mile four-minute barrier. McWhirter eventually read out the remainder of the time which was: “Three minutes, 59.4 seconds.”

An hour before the race, the weather was so bad that a record attempt was inconceivable, but the rain stopped, and the wind died down as Bannister decided to go ahead with the record attempt. Joining him in the line-up were Chris Chataway, who would finish runner-up to Bannister, Chris Brasher and Tom Hulatt, (who finished third), all from the AAA, while Alan Gordon and the American George Dole ran for the University team. Chataway and Brasher acted as pacemen for Bannister, who had tactically worked out how he was going to attack the record – and he did that to perfection. With a touch of irony, when Bannister was an Oxford undergraduate, he helped lay the cinder track at Iffley Road.

It was a record that Bannister, the Australian John Landy and American Wes Santee had all been chasing, but it was the British doctor who carved his own piece of track history on that day at Oxford, as he broke Sweden’s Gunder Hägg’s near nine-year-old world record by two seconds. The tea-time news was interrupted by the BBC, and a re-run of the race was played non-stop throughout the evening, it was that memorable. Had Bannister won a gold medal at the 1952 Olympics, however, he may not have attempted the world record because, by his own admission, he probably would have retired after the Helsinki Games had he done so.

Born at Harrow, north London, Bannister’s father hailed from a run-down cotton town near Burnley, Lancashire, before obtaining a post in the Civil Service in London. Roger was evacuated to Bath during World War II and attended the City of Bath Boys’ School. On returning to London, he attended University College School, Hampstead, where he played rugby, rowed, and showed his superiority as a runner. He sat the University entrance examination at the age of 16, and won a medical scholarship at Exeter College, and later Merton College, Oxford. He took a BA in physiology before moving to St Marys’ Hospital, London to finish his clinical studies

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Helsinki 1952

#4
1,500 metres
1,500 metres Athletics