We are fast approaching the golden anniversary of perhaps THE great milestone in sport: Roger Bannister's breaking the four-minute mile "barrier." In 1954 the English medical student thrilled the world by doing something the supposed experts had thought might be impossible. Click here for more details.
He set a world record that he only held for weeks. And in the past fifty years, hundreds of athletes--some of them just high school runners--have bettered Bannister's achievement of 3:59.4. In fact, the world record in the mile is over sixteen seconds faster than it was when Bannister set it. But he got there first. And he did so before the many advances in the science of sports physiology and training, before helpful developments in equipment and track construction.
Most important of all, Bannister's is a wonderful example of a life well-lived. Like the Arch "Moonlight" Graham character in A Field of Dreams, this is a guy who thought his career as a doctor was far more important than his attainments as an athlete. But he will always be remembered for his successful effort to, as he put it in his memoir The Four-Minute Mile, "do one thing supremely well." Bravo, Sir Roger!