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Sir Roger Bannister

Track and Field Legend

Sir Roger Bannister: To everybody's surprise, I was put in a team. It was a dreadful winter in 1947. Historically, there's never been a winter like it since. The track was frozen. They couldn't have trials. So, I couldn't prove that I could be in the team. My previous best time was about five minutes. You know, won a freshman's race. But, I had been seen shoveling away the snow rather vigorously. So the captain -- and sport is entirely run by students in Oxford -- the captain said, "Well look, just as a third string." That means the third runner who is not expected to do anything. "Why don't we put him in?" And they put me in. Then on the race itself, I just overtook all the rest of the field and won, which at the time was 30 seconds faster than I had done before, but very modest of course, four and a half minutes. That was the beginning of an eight-year process in which every year I improved and then after eight years I was near the world record. And, then on the eighth year, broke it. I had qualified as a doctor six weeks later. I tidied up one or two other races. My record was broken by an Australian, John Landy. Then John Landy and I had to compete head-to-head in what was then called the Empire Games, when we still had a bit of an empire. That is now the Commonwealth games. I then defeated him. So my honor was satisfied. I had another European race and then retired and never ran again competitively.
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Sir Roger Bannister

Track and Field Legend

For example, I knew I wasn't going to be an obstetrician, and there were certain areas of medicine which could be reduced to formulae. You know, "There are six complications of this condition " and once you had mastered that, it was not too difficult where you had to deliver some babies and things. So I would tend to take about two hours off to travel to a track, spend about 35 minutes running, but running very hard and then just have a shower, didn't warm up, didn't warm down, had a shower, would get something to eat and get back to the hospital by two o'clock. So that was really the pattern for several years with, of course, intervals for traveling to matches and team. So, it was a major incursion into my medical studies, and I think that -- although I passed all my examinations the first time and so on -- I did not pay as much attention in depth to clinical medicine as I had to my physiology. But in the long-term, I simply had to catch up after qualifying by studying for the various higher exams which our specialist physicians and neurologists need to do.
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Ehud Barak

Former Prime Minister of Israel

Ehud Barak: I believe that I already came from my childhood with the kind of feeling somehow that the fact that I'm slightly different doesn't mean that I'm worse. Or somehow -- it doesn't create -- should not kind of deter me from trying to do things. It's just a matter of fact. I cannot throw the ball through the basket so I cannot become a basketball player. But it somehow did not deter me. Somehow I came out of childhood with kind of a self-confident -- or not self-confidence in things that I cannot do, but kind of calibrated assessment of what I can do, and with a basic sense of direction of what I can do, a sense of judgment.
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Ehud Barak

Former Prime Minister of Israel

And under battle, under exercises, it's unbelievably -- the simplest operations become unbelievably tough. It's like burden on all the people. People become paralyzed. Some of them that were so kind of easy going and kind of hyper before battle become totally paralyzed. They don't hear well. They tend -- everyone tends to stay behind cover. To move a unit to assault is infinitely complicated. You know, it's -- first of all, personally you are paralyzed by the shooting. You are confident that once you raise your head over you will get a bullet at your head. It's only the eyes of your own soldiers that you know that they know that you are committed to lead them. They expect you to do something. You cannot avoid it. You cannot leave there and leave them kind of paralyzed.
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Gary Becker

Nobel Prize in Economics

Most of my teachers at Chicago were open to my working on that. Some were skeptical that an economist should be working on these problems, so they forced a sociologist to be a member of my thesis committee. But I had enough of my faculty like (Milton) Friedman and others -- Ted Schultz, who eventually won the Nobel Prize also -- and some others there, who thought I was onto something, who encouraged me. So I kept doing it. My fellow graduate students were skeptical, and I'd go out to other economists, at MIT and elsewhere, very good places, they were very skeptical if this was economics. I don't know if I would have persisted if it wasn't -- I had some support among my faculty members who I admired so much. And given my own, you might say, rebellious instincts, the combination, I think both were necessary in enabling me to persist in the face of the fact that most economists thought this wasn't really economics, and this was sociology or whatever you wanted to call it. But I thought it was economics, in the sense I was using economic tools to discuss what was obviously, I would say, "This is a major problem. We economists should be talking about this," and they would be skeptical about that.
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Gary Becker

Nobel Prize in Economics

I began to think more sporadically about family: Who marries whom, what matches you see, how many children people had -- an area I had touched on in a paper I did much earlier, but came back to that. How much they invest in their child, that is, effort and time, money, encouragement they put into the child. That directly looks at the educational issue. But then divorce was beginning to increase. Do families stay together? I had to talk about the divorce issue. Eventually I published this book that covered almost every aspect, in terms of broad issues, that the family deals with, from having children, from marrying before having children, to investing in your children, to divorcing, to care of elderly parents. All these issues I tried to bring together within a common framework. And it was the hardest thing I ever did, I mean mentally. It took enormous concentration. For a number of years I'd wake up at night, start working on it. I was very tired when the book was over. It took a year or two before I could really get much intellectual zest back to work on things. It took a lot out of me doing that book, and I felt it was an imperfect book. Family is such a huge subject that I certainly didn't feel I "solved" the family. But at the same time, I felt I had made progress in showing that one could use these tools to help illuminate some issues of the family, and was very satisfied about that, even though, again, when the book came out, the economists, the non-economists were skeptical. Even the Nobel Prize Committee, when they awarded me the Nobel Prize, they mentioned my work on discrimination very positively, my work on crime, which we haven't talked about. My work on human capital, those were all positive. But even they had to say that the family is still very controversial, this work on the family.
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