"I knew I was very close. I did collapse at the end. If you don't keep on running, keep your blood circulating,.. the muscles stop pumping the blood back, and you get dizzy. I did lose my sight for a bit because I was crowded in. Everybody rushed on to the track."
In 1954 a young medical student made headlines around the world with one of the landmark events of 20th century sports history. At the time, it was thought to be impossible for a human being to run a mile in under four minutes. The world record of 4:01.3 had stood for nine years, and experts regarded this time as an insurmountable human limitation.
Roger Bannister thought otherwise. He had already won the British championship in the event, and he applied his scientific training and medical knowledge to smashing the four-minute barrier. On May 6, 1954, he set a new world record, running the mile in 3:59.4 while fighting a 15 mile-per-hour crosswind. His record was later broken by Australian John Landy, but in a subsequent rematch, with both athletes running the mile in under four minutes, Bannister was again triumphant.
Roger Bannister retired from racing shortly after his famous run and has since pursued a career in neurological medicine. Today, he is director of the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases in London. He was knighted by the Queen in 1975, but Sir Roger had long since won the world's acclaim. Sports Illustrated rated Bannister's breakthrough alongside the scaling of Everest as the most significant athletic feat of the 20th century.