Nearly sixty years on and this video is still one of the most iconic sporting moments in history. Roger Bannister had intended to retire after the 1952 Olympics, but having only come in 4th in the 1500m final, he hung on for another two years to make an attempt on the holy grail of middle distance running, breaking the time of a four minute mile.
The video is a replay with the runner’s voice recounting the experience. He said twice, “he was full of running.” I love the quote, “I felt that a moment of a lifetime had come.”
Two other milers had the same intent of Bannister and were out to break that 4-minute-mile record: John Landy of Australia and Wes Santee of the USA. Bannister ran early in the season at the track called Iffley Road in Oxford, and, he was paced by his old friends Brasher and Chataway. He came home under the magical time, taking 2 seconds off of Gunder Hägg’s nine year old mile world record. Amazingly after all the hype, the Bannister record only stood for six weeks. Then it was to John Landy who ran 3:57.9 in Finland.
Bannister then went on that season to defeat Landy in the “Mile of the Century” in the Empire Games, before winning the European 1500-meter title and then retiring from the sport at the age of 25.