3 minute read

Roger Bannister

Bannister The Neurologist

Bannister earned his medical degree from Oxford in 1963, and became a neurologist. When asked why he did not become a neurosurgeon, he said, according to Deford, "The interesting thing for me was deciding where the tumor was—rather than taking it out." Beginning in 1969, he served as the editor of a textbook, Brain's Clinical Neurology. In 1990 it was retitled Brain and Bannister's Clinical Neurology.

Related Biography: Miler John Landy

John Landy was Roger Bannister's closest competitor; if Bannister had not broken the four-minute barrier, Landy would have been the first person to do so. The two men spurred each other on, gaining strength and determination from each other's presence.

Born April 12, 1930 in Melbourne, Australia, Landy attended the University of Melbourne, where he ran on the track team and studied agricultural science. From 1954 to 1956, he taught biology and science at a grammar school in Geelong, Australia. In 1955, Landy was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire. The following year Landy was a member of the Australian Olympic track and field team and won a bronze medal in the 1,500 meters.

Landy married Lynn Catherine Fisher, a journalist, in 1971; they have two children. He has devoted most of his career to agriculture, and the development of his family's farm. He was also deeply interested in natural history and nature photography, and in 1985 published a book, Close to Nature, featuring the flora and fauna on his family property.

From 1985 to 1989, Landy was a consultant to the Australian Department of Sport, Recreation, and Tourism, and from 1988 to the present he has worked as a consultant to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Organization. In 2002, Landy was Governor General of Victoria, Australia. He told Robert Phillips in the London, England Daily Telegraph, "Roger got the four-minute mile first and he got to the tape first in Vancouver. He deserved them both."

Awards and Accomplishments

1948 Wins Kinniard Cup
1951 Wins mile race in Penn Relays
1951, 1953-54 Wins British mile championships
1954 Wins Empire mile championship
1954 Wins European 1,500 meter championship
1954 Becomes first person to run a mile in less than 4 minutes, setting new world record of 3:59.4
1954 Wins Empire mile championships, setting new world record of 3:58.9
1954 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year; Pears Trophy
1975 Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II

In 1975, Bannister was involved in a head-on automobile crash that almost killed him. Although he recovered from his severe injuries, he has been unable to run

Roger Bannister, crossing finish line

since then, although he still bicycles. After his crash, he spent his enforced period of rest thinking about his work and what he wanted to do, and became involved in medical research; he set up a laboratory to study the part of the brain that controls blood pressure.

Also in 1975, Bannister was knighted by Queen Elizabeth, receiving the title "Sir Roger Bannister." The honor was not in recognition of his running, but of his life's work as a runner and a physician. Bannister has written hundreds of scholarly papers, and has edited medical textbooks. During the 1970s he was chair of the British Sports Council, and he helped design urine tests that would detect athletes who used performance-enhancing drugs.

In 1996, speaking at the Cincinnati Heart Mini-Marathon Clinic, Bannister said that he believed the next time barrier for the mile is 3:30, according to Bob Queenan in the Cincinnati Post. He noted that Algerian athlete Noureddine Morceli had run 3:44.29 on July 3, 1995.

In 2001, Bannister's breaking of the four-minute barrier was chosen as the Greatest British Sports Performance of the Century, according to Alison Kervin in the London Times. Bannister told Kervin that he was "very flattered indeed," especially since his performance was placed above that of five-time Olympic gold-medal winner, Steve Redgrave, an athlete whom Bannister had long admired.

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsTrack and FieldRoger Bannister Biography - "i Just Ran Anywhere And Everywhere", 1952 Olympics, "a Scene Of The Wildest Excitement", Chronology - SELECTED WRITINGS BY BANNISTER: