Roger Bannister

Watch Roger Bannister’s sub-4-minute mile on 60th anniversary

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English medical student Roger Bannister ran one mile in 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds on May 6, 1954. The four-minute barrier has been broken by more than 1,000 men in the last 60 years, but Bannister will always be celebrated as the first.

“All I can say is that I’m instantly overwhelmed and delighted,” Bannister said 60 years ago, shortly after achieving his feat at the Iffley Road Track in Oxford. “It was a great surprise to me to be able to do it today, and I think I was very lucky.”

Bannister, now 85, performed what many thought at the time to be physically impossible. He’s long credited his two pace makers, Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway, and said that he considers his greatest life achievement not to be the 3:59.4 but his career as a neurologist after he retired from running later in 1954.

Bannister would win Sports Illustrated‘s first Sportsman of the Year Award for 1954 and then be knighted in 1975.

Bannister broke the world record by two seconds, but his mark lasted a mere 46 days. Australian rival John Landy clocked 3:58 on June 21, 1954. The record is now down to 3:43.13, set in 1999 by the two-time Olympic champion Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj. Bannister believes 3:30 will one day be possible (A 3:28 mile was done in 1983, but it was on a downhill course.).

Bannister ran his mile on a cool, windy evening 60 years ago. Brasher paced the first lap in 57.5 seconds and 1:58 for the half-mile. Chataway then took the lead and crossed three laps in front of about 3,000 spectators in 3:00.7. Bannister burst past Chataway on the back straight, needing to run the final 400m in 59 seconds.

“The world seemed to stand still, or did not exist,” Bannister later wrote. “The only reality was the next 200 hundred yards of track under my feet. The tape meant finality — extinction perhaps.

“I felt at that moment that it was my chance to do one thing supremely well. I drove on, impelled by a combination of fear and pride. …

“I leapt at the tape like a man taking his last spring to save himself from the chasm that threatens to engulf him. …

“I knew that i had done it before I even heard the time.”

An announcer began reading out the time, “Three … ” and the crowd drowned out the rest.

Technology makes Bannister’s feat even more impressive. Author David Epstein consulted biomechanics who said running on soft cinders as Bannister did in 1954 was 1.5 percent slower than on today’s synthetic tracks.

Bannister now lives with Parkinson’s disease in Oxford, a short distance from the site of his history-making run.

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Lindsey Vonn gets bad luck, Mikaela Shiffrin misses gate in super-G

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Neither Lindsey Vonn nor Mikaela Shiffrin made the podium, but Swiss Lara Gut notched her first victory Sunday since a major knee injury.

Gut, the 2016 World Cup overall champion who tore an ACL in February, topped a World Cup super-G in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, by .14 over Italian Johanna Schnarf.

Austrian Nicole Schmidhofer was third. Full results are here.

Vonn dropped to sixth, .37 behind, dropped a couple of expletives in the finish corral and posted on social media afterward that she caught her strongest wind gust in more than 400 career starts.

“I’m not mad; I’m just a little bit frustrated,” Vonn said. “Sometimes this happens in ski racing where the races aren’t really fair. The wind comes. The light comes. The clouds come. But I tried my best. I’m happy with my skiing. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t very lucky today. Hopefully I can get some of this luck and take it with me to February [and the Olympics] and get some better conditions.”

Vonn placed second and first in downhills in Cortina on Friday and Saturday, confirming she’s a favorite to become the oldest female Olympic Alpine medalist next month.

Shiffrin was off her line early in Sunday’s run and eventually missed a gate, screaming out of frustration.

She is still cutting her teeth in the speed events of downhill and super-G and was third and seventh in the previous two races.

“The problem was with my [pre-race course] inspection, and I’m not exactly sure what we can do for me to be better prepared for super-Gs,” Shiffrin said, according to The Associated Press. “One of my biggest issues right now is still switching from the timing of downhill turns to super-G turns.”

Laurenne Ross became the sixth U.S. female Alpine skier to qualify for the Olympic team thanks to a previous top-10. Ross, the second-best U.S. speed racer behind Vonn last season, came back from blowing out her right knee in a March 27 crash.

The World Cup moves to Kronplatz, Italy, on Tuesday for a giant slalom, where Shiffrin will be favored (full Alpine season broadcast schedule here).

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2018 U.S. Men’s Olympic Team General Manager Jim Johannson dies at 53

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Jim Johannson, the general manager of the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team, has died on the eve of the Pyeongchang Games. He was 53.

Johannson passed away in his sleep Sunday morning, according to USA Hockey. Executive director Pat Kelleher said the organization is “beyond shocked and profoundly saddened” by the loss of the Rochester, Minnesota native.

“As accomplished as Jim was in hockey, he was the absolute best, most humble, kind and caring person you could ever hope to meet,” Kelleher said in a release. “His impact on our sport and more importantly the people and players in our sport have been immeasurable. Our condolences go out to his entire family, but especially to his loving wife Abby and their young daughter Ellie.”

Johannson’s role in selecting this year’s Olympic team was his most high-profile job in a career spent in hockey. He also played for the U.S. in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics.

The United States faces Slovenia in its Pyeongchang opener on Feb. 14.

“There are few like Jimmy,” said Ron DeGregorio, chairman of the board of USA Hockey. “Our sport was so lucky to have him. He was as good of a person you’ll meet and he played such a significant role in helping move our sport forward. Today is a tough day for everyone.”

Johannson began working for USA Hockey in 2000 after spending five years as the general manager of the Twin Cities Vulcans in the United States Hockey League. He was promoted to assistant executive director of hockey operations in 2007, overseeing the organization’s efforts in fielding teams for international competition.

He played college hockey at Wisconsin and helped the Badgers win the NCAA championship as a freshman. He was selected by Hartford in the seventh round of the 1982 draft, but never played in the NHL.

“When we heard of JJ’s passing, we are reminded of what an enjoyable person he was to be around, and also what he meant to USA Hockey and hockey worldwide,” Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula, who have a strong connection to USA Hockey, said in a release.

“We should all strive to do our jobs and treat people as JJ did. Jim Johannson, you have moved on, but you will not be forgotten. We will miss you.”

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