Roger Bannister


Swedish runner Gundar Haegg’s 4:01.4 minute time record set in Malmö in 1945 stood for nine years until British middle-distance athlete and neurologist Roger Bannister became the first human to run a sub-four-minute mile. He broke the record on 6 May 1954 at Iffley Road track in Oxford.

In 1954, Bannister set himself the target of breaking the four-minute mile barrier. At the time Bannister was a 25-year-old full-time medical student at St Mary’s Hospital Medical School. He could only train for 45 minutes a day for the event. The opportunity to break the record came on 6 May 1954, when Bannister was competing in an event for the Amateur Athletic Association against Oxford University. Bannister set a British record in the 1,500 meters at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Finland where he finished in fourth place.

Roger Bannister broke the record at 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds, and the record lasted for just 46 days. On 21st June 1954, the record was broken by Bannister’s Australian rival John Landy, with a time of 3 minutes 57.9 seconds. The sub-four-minute mile has since been broken by over 1,550 athletes worldwide, and it is now the standard of all male professional middle distance runners in several countries. In the 65 years since the record was broken, the sub-4 minute mile record has been lowered by almost 17 seconds, and it currently stands at 3:43:13, ran by Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco, at age 24, in 1999.