Roger Bannister and the ‘four-minute mile’ barrier
In the 1950s, people thought it was impossible to run the mile in under four minutes. Medical practitioners said the human body was anatomically incapable of running that fast, given its lung capacity, bone structure, strength and speed. The barrier seemed unbreakable, and the world record had been sitting at 4:01.5 minutes for 2920 days. However, on 6 May 1954, English man Roger Bannister ran the first ‘sub–four minute’ mile in recorded history, at 3:59.4 minutes, at the Iffley Road Track in Oxford, England.
In November 2005, after interviewing a number of sports experts, a journalist at Forbes magazine declared that Bannister’s four-minute mile was ‘the greatest athletic achievement’ of all time. But the story goes on. Six weeks later, John Landy, an Australian, followed suit by running 3:57.9 minutes, breaking Bannister’s record. And then over the following six months, 37 other athletes broke the four-minute barrier. By 12 months later, 300 more athletes had run the mile in under four minutes. It’s interesting, isn’t it? So, what had happened? They’d changed both their mindset and their limiting belief. Running the mile in less than four minutes was no longer impossible.
From A Life That Counts, by Jeremy Rolleston