It is fifty five years since the young medical undergraduate, Roger Bannister became the first person in the world officially to break the magical barrier of the four minute mile. As a child of a home which did not yet have the luxury of a TV set, I heard the news on the radio, and later watched the exciting event on the Pathe Newsreel at the local cinema.
A couple of years later when I was a pupil at Colwyn Bay Grammar School in North Wales, we had the honour of a visit from one of Roger Bannister’s pacemakers, Chris Chattaway. It was a hot summer’s day, and Chris gave us a sort of ‘masterclass’ in athletics. At one point, he asked me to be the timekeeper for a track race and handed me his own personal wristwatch to perform the task.
I idly turned the watch over and was thrilled to see the inscription on the back. It was the very watch presented to him by Roger Bannister himself as a ‘Thank-you’ for the assistance in breaking that barrier!
Another of the pacemakers on that day was of course, Chris Brasher who later founded the London marathon… which both my son & daughter in law have successfully completed. And, if I am not mistaken, I believe that my son actually ran in a half marathon alongside Chris Chattaway, and managed a reasonably similar time…. though of course, the one was quite a few years older that the other by then!
Once the barrier had been broken, more and more people were to break the four minute barrier, and I myself was present in the crowd at White City when it happenned in the early sixties.
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