Sir Roger Bannister Dies at 88; Was 1st Person to Run a Mile in Under 4 Minutes

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistMarch 4, 2018

OXFORD, ENGLAND - MAY 6:  Sir Roger Bannister walks over the finish line of the Iffley Road running track to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of his first sub 4 minute mile on May 6, 2004 at Iffley Road, Oxford, England. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Sir Roger Bannister, the first person to run a mile in under four minutes, has died aged 88.

As BBC Sport relayed, the Bannister family released a statement confirming the news on Sunday morning.

In it, they noted the legendary runner "died peacefully" and "surrounded by his family who were as loved by him as he was loved by them."

Bannister etched his name into athletics history on May 6, 1954, when he completed the mile distance in a time of three minutes, 59.4 seconds in Oxford, England.

Here's a reminder of the history-making mile:

In addition to the aforementioned race, Bannister also won gold at the 1954 Commonwealth Games over the same distance.

The Oxford University medical student was also part of Great Britain's 1952 Olympic team in Helsinki, Finland, where he set a new national record in the 1,500 metres and finished fourth overall.

Bannister set the record in 1954.
Bannister set the record in 1954.Getty Images/Getty Images

Bannister will always be synonymous with his record-breaking run in 1954, though, when pacesetters Sir Christopher Chataway and Chris Brasher aided him in pursuit of the landmark.

Bannister discussed his accomplishment in 2014 in an interview with Guinness World Records:

IAAF President Seb Coe, who broke the mile world record himself in 1981, paid tribute to Bannister on Twitter:

Seb Coe @sebcoe

This is a day of intense sadness both for our nation and for all of us in athletics. There is not a single athlete of my generation who was not inspired by Roger and his achievements both on and off the track. https://t.co/8lcErw8Oad

In 1981, Coe set a time of 3:47.33, while Hicham El Guerrouj is the current record-holder, with his run of 3:43.13 in 1999 still to be bested.

Four-time Olympic champion Sir Mo Farah was another who praised the impact Bannister had both on and off the track:

Sir Mo Farah @Mo_Farah

I’m so sorry to hear the sad news about Roger Bannister. I met him several times throughout my career and he was always humble, supportive and encouraging. He was an inspiration to so many, being the first man to break the 4-minute mile. My thoughts are with his family & friends.

The London Marathon Twitter account paid their own tribute to the Briton:

London Marathon @LondonMarathon

For some the word legend doesn't quite cut it. Rest in peace Sir Roger Bannister. https://t.co/ZW3Y8qkvGh

After his athletics career came to an end in 1954, Bannister went on to become a neurologist. He was then knighted in 1975.

He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2011. "I do not want to make a fuss," he said of the disease in 2014, per Patrick Lion of the Daily Mirror. "I make as light of it as I can."