Nearly sixty years on, this event remains one of the most iconic events in sport. This is the famous race in May 1954 at Oxford University’s Iffley Road track that saw Roger Bannister become the first person to run the mile in under four minutes.
Roger Bannister set his sights on breaking the four-minute mile barrier two years earlier after just missing out on the medal places at the 1952 Olympics. This failure spurred Bannister on and he became determined to be the first to break the record. But it wasn’t for another year that he actually believed it was possible to do. That realisation, and consequent belief, occurred when Bannister broke the British record in May 1953 achieving a time of 4:03.6. Bannister said after the event:
“This race made me realize that the four-minute mile was not out of reach”
And so it transpired that 12 months later in May 1954 Roger Bannister, with help from his pace-makers Chris Brasher and Chris Chattaway, broke the four-minute barrier in a time of 3:59.4.
There are a lot of myths and stories told about the magical four-minute-mile barrier and many of those myths were debunked by Bannister himself in his memoirs “The Four Minute Mile” (1955) but what Bannister does say about his success is the importance of beliefs, determination and the will to succeed. What was incredible about Bannister’s feat was that in 1952 when he set his sights on breaking the four-minute barrier, Bannister’s training regimen was just three half-hour sessions per week! He did increase that after his 1952 Olympic failure but it was still very light compared to his peers. Bannister was a natural athlete with great physical and mental abilities and provides a great example of what individuals can achieve when they truly believe in themselves.
Watch the video below and listen to Bannister’s comments on what was going through his mind during the race. It’s an incredible insight into the mind of an elite athlete. Once you’ve watched the video ask yourself this: “What do you believe you can achieve?”
Enjoy the game!