Roger Bannister

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

Leave a comment

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.

First Olympic gold-medal game basketball for sale

Clay Stanley the latest 2008 Olympic champion to retire from volleyball

Clay Stanley
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Clay Stanley announced his retirement, becoming the latest member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic champion team to bow out from indoor volleyball.

Stanley, 38, played in the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics and was MVP and Best Server at the 2008 Beijing Games, where the U.S. earned gold for the first time in 20 years.

“When he first came to the USA gym, he was kind of a blunt instrument,” 2008 U.S. men’s coach Hugh McCutcheon said, according to USA Volleyball. “At the end of the 2008 quad, he could do so many things at a high level. He became one of the best in the world at his position”

Stanley was one of the older members of the 2012 Olympic team that lost in the quarterfinals. Stanley picked up a knee injury in London and never again played in a major tournament for the U.S.

“We reached a level with my knee that we couldn’t get past,” Stanley said, according to USA Volleyball. “If I can’t be ready to play right now then I’ve got to shut it down. We did everything we could and that’s that.”

Stanley’s retirement follows that of 2008 Olympic teammates Reid Priddy and David Lee, who both made the Rio Games their final national-team appearance, according to The Associated Press, though Priddy hopes to transition to beach volleyball.

VIDEO: Top volleyball moments of Rio Olympics

Patrick Chan plans to retire after 2018 Olympic season

Patrick Chan
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Olympic silver medalist Patrick Chan said he plans to make the 2017-18 figure skating season his last, as expected.

“Yes, I have many projects lined up ahead after my competitive career,” Chan told media Wednesday.

Chan, at 25, is arguably young enough to keep skating beyond the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, which would be his third Winter Games.

But the three-time world champion (2011, 2012, 2013), who is currently coach-less following the surprise resignation of Kathy Johnson earlier this month, is in awe of the jumps that younger skaters are throwing.

“Honestly, just look at [Japanese] Shoma’s [Uno] quad flip,” Chan joked with media. “That’s enough of an answer to just be like, yeah, this is my time. I’m going to leave on a high.”

Chan earned silver at the 2014 Olympics behind Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu, then took one season off from competition.

He returned last year, beating Hanyu at Skate Canada but finishing a disappointing fifth at the world championships after a disastrous free skate. That marked his worst worlds finish since his debut in 2008 as a 17-year-old.

Chan said before last season’s worlds that his performance there would determine whether he continued skating through the 2018 Olympics.

“I’m at a disadvantage now, technically,” Chan said in March. “I’m competing against men who are doing five quads between the short program and the long program, and I’m at three between the two programs. Who would ever imagine that three wasn’t enough for some people?”

Chan remains the best Canadian skater. He won his eighth national title last year.

Chan will make his Grand Prix series debut at Skate Canada the last weekend of October, against a field that again includes Hanyu.

MORE: 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships host set