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British athletics great Roger Bannister dies aged 88

05 March 2018

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".

At a time when the sub-four-minute mile was a goal of elite runners - and one that skeptics considered a barrier that the human body couldn't overcome - Bannister made history in a race on May 6, 1954, at Oxford University in England.

"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.

British Prime Minister Theresa May remembered Bannister as a "British sporting icon whose achievements were an inspiration to us all".

"He will be greatly missed", she wrote on Twitter.

At the 1952 Summer Olympics, he finished fourth in the 1500-meter mile, setting a British record. He clocked in at 3 minutes 59.4 seconds, a record at the time.

Bannister capped his brilliant summer of 1954 by winning the 1,500 meters at the European Championships in Bern, Switzerland, in a games record of 3:43.8. "Life has its physical challenges, but I take every day as it comes", he said.

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26/6/04 Roger Bannister holds the Olympic Torch aloft.

He was named the first chairman of the English Sports Council in 1971, and remained in that position until 1974.

Roger Bannister about to cross the tape at the end of his record-breaking mile run at Iffley Road, Oxford. He met with Sir Roger Bannister several times in the years before his death.

Australian Landy led for most of the race but Bannister passed him on the final bend and won the race by almost a second, both men going under four minutes and Bannister running a career-best 3:58.8. "Those are real achievements".

The 1,500-meter race is usually run instead of the mile in global competition.

"There is not a single athlete of my generation who was not inspired by Roger and his achievements both on and off the track", tweeted Coe, who won two Olympic gold medals in the 1980s. With his wife, Moyra Jacobsson, a portrait painter and daughter of a Swedish economist, he had four children. Bannister was knighted in 1975, and served as the Master of Pembroke College at Oxford University from 1985 until 1993.

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

British athletics great Roger Bannister dies aged 88