Sebastian Coe leads tributes to British athlete who was first to break the four-minute mile
Sir Roger Bannister, the first athlete to sprint through the four-minute-mile barrier, has been hailed as a trailblazer who made the impossible possible and inspired generations of British people to take up sport, following his death aged 88.
Sebastian Coe, president of athletics governing body the IAAF, led the tributes that also came from medicine, academia and sports administration fields that Bannister also took to with vigour and considerable success after he hung up his spikes aged just 25.
This is a day of intense sadness both for our nation and for all of us in athletics, said Lord Coe, who also held the mile world record during his track and field career. There is not a single athlete of my generation who was not inspired by Roger and his achievements both on and off the track. He made the impossible possible.
Bannister had only decided at the last minute to make an attempt on the mile record on 6 May 1954 because he feared that the high winds and rain would scupper his chances. But urged on by a boisterous crowd at the Iffley Road track in Oxford, and expertly paced by Chris Brasher and then Chris Chataway, he came home in 3 minutes 59.4 seconds.