Tributes to Sir Roger Bannister

Posted on: March 5th, 2018

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Sir Roger Bannister, the first person to run a mile in under four minutes, died on March 3 2018 at the age of 88. We are incredibly saddened by his death and would like to send condolences to Roger’s family.

Sir Roger studied and worked at the University of Oxford and made an overwhelming contribution to the the University and far beyond.

During his student years he was an active member of Oxford University Athletics Club (OUAC), achieving victories in the Varsity Match Mile (1948, 1949 and 1950) and the Varsity Cross Country (1949). He held the roles of Honorary Secretary (1949) and President (1950) of OUAC and co-captained the combined Oxford and Cambridge tour to the USA in 1949, where he won the Mile and the team defeated a combined Harvard and Yale team. Roger remained an enthusiastic supporter of Oxford sport throughout his life and held positions including Chairman of the Sports Council and Vice-President of the Achilles Club (the Oxford and Cambridge Alumni association for Athletics). He also achieved the following athletic success in his career: –

  • AAA Champion (National Champion) at the Mile in 1951, 1953 and 1954
  • AAA Champion at 880 yards in 1952
  • European Champion at 1500m in 1954
  • Empire & Commonwealth Champion at the Mile in 1954
  • Fourth place in the 1500m at the Olympic Games in 1952
  • World Record Holder at the 4 x Mile Relay in 1953 (16:41.0)
  • World Record Holder at the Mile in 1954 (3:59.4)

Roger was awarded a knighthood in 1975, became president of the World Sports Council in 1976 and in 1977 was the first Briton to win West Germany’s Hans-Heinrich Siegbert prize for his services to sport.

Alongside his impressive contributions to sport, Sir Roger was a globally renowned neurologist. From his own point of view, his athletic successes were not amongst his most significant accomplishments. “None of my athletics was the greatest achievement,” he said. “My medical work has been my achievement and my family with 14 grandchildren. Those are real achievements.”

Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, said: “Roger Bannister epitomised what it means to be a living legend. He was a regular presence at university events and remained committed to Oxford University to the end, engaging with students, challenging academics, and inspiring all of us.”

Lord Patten of Barnes, Chancellor of Oxford University, said: “My wife and I were very sad to hear about Roger Bannister’s death. We offer our condolences to his family. He was not just one of the great athletes of the last century but a superb doctor and servant of Oxford University. He was a man of great distinction and honour in every sense. At the age of 88 he was still an active supporter of the university and we will miss him enormously.”

His record time of 3.59.4 was set at our very own Iffley Road sports ground in Oxford on 6 May 1954. This record, whilst only held for 46 days, ensured his place in sporting history and served to inspire future generations of athletes, Oxford students and the local community in which he played a thriving part.

Rest in peace, Sir Roger.