Roger Bannister, 1st to run sub 4-minute mile, dies at 88

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Roger Bannister's death at the age of 88 prompted a host of emotional tributes to athletics' great barrier breaker on Sunday with the sport's senior figure, Sebastian Coe, saluting him as the "man who made the impossible possible".

Bannister accomplished a feat many deemed impossible when he ran a mile in 3 minutes 59.4 seconds at Oxford's Iffley Road track on May 6, 1954.

Prime Minister Theresa May paid respects to the late athlete on social media "Sir Roger Bannister was a great British sporting icon whose achievements were an inspiration to us all. He will be greatly missed".

His fourth lap, in 58.9 seconds, gave him a final time of 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds.

Later in 1954, Bannister won the 1,500 meters at the European Championships in Bern, Switzerland, in a games record of 3:43.8.

"This is a day of intense sadness both for our nation and for all of us in athletics", said IAAF president Lord Coe, who set the record in the mile in 1981. "I'd like to see it as a metaphor not only for sport, but for life and seeking challenges". He was a boy who "just ran anywhere and everywhere - never because it was an end in itself, but because it was easier for me to run than to walk", Bannister wrote in "The First Four Minutes", his 1995 memoir.

He was also instrumental in initiating the first testing processes for anabolic steroids while serving as chairman of the British Sports Council in the 1970s.

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After retiring from competitive racing, Bannister spent two decades as a neurologist in private practice, then turned full-time to research, specializing in autonomic failure - illness characterized by the failure of the central nervous system to respond automatically to stimuli.

Steve Ford, chief executive of Parkinson's United Kingdom said: "We're very saddened to hear of the death of Sir Roger Bannister".

The 1,500-meter race is usually run instead of the mile in global competition. "My medical work has been my achievement and my family with 14 grandchildren".

TeamGB: "We are incredibly saddened by the death of Sir Roger Bannister, aged 88".

Coe ran a mile in a world record 3 minutes, 47.33 seconds in 1981 between winning gold medals in the 1,500 meters at the 1980 and 1984 Olympics. With his wife, Moyra Jacobsson, a portrait painter and daughter of a Swedish economist, he had four children.

Bannister outlived his 4-minute mile pacemakers: Brasher, who founded the London Marathon, died in 2003 at the age of 74.

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