Roger Bannister, First to Break Four-Minute Mile, Dies at 88

Roger Bannister, the first man to ever run a four-minute mile, died on Saturday. He was 88.

The British athlete's death was confirmed by family on Sunday in a statement to BBC News. They say his death was peaceful and we was with his family at the time.

"Sir Roger Bannister, died peacefully in Oxford on 3 March, aged 88, surrounded by his family who were as loved by him, as he was loved by them," the statement read. "He banked his treasure in the hearts of his friends."

Bannister's athletic achievement was made on May 6, 1954, in Oxford, England. He clocked in at 3 minutes 59.4 seconds, a record at the time. His record only lasted 46 days, but it was enough for him to go down in history.

Additionally, the legendary runner also competed in the 1952 Olympics. He set a British record for the 1500 meter race while finishing fourth.

In 1954, Bannister retired from racing and studied neurology. While there is much less fanfare around this academic pursuit, Bannister himself hoped he would be remembered more fondly for his research achievements.

In 2011, the Olympian was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. It is unclear if that illness contributed to his death.

"I have seen, and looked after, patients with so many neurological and other disorders that I am not surprised I have acquired an illness," Bannister told BBC News in 2014. "It's in the nature of things, there's a gentle irony to it."

When news of Bannister's passing broke, reactions from admirers starting coming out on Twitter.

"RIP Sir Roger Bannister, who ran humanity’s first sub-four minute mile and went on to be a distinguished neurologist and master of Pembroke," admirer Pádraig Belton wrote. "As officer of a student club I corresponded with him occasionally; he was ever the consummate gentleman. Godspeed."


Another fan wrote, "Had the pleasure of meeting Roger Bannister at a charity do once. He was surprisingly down to earth, and VERY funny."

See some of the reactions below.