Re-celebrating the four minute mile

Left to right, Chataway, Banister, Brasher

Left to right, Chataway, Banister, Brasher

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.

©1996 – 2009 American Academy of Achievement. All Rights Reserve

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