Game Makers
More than Champions
Barrier Removers
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"It all starts with desire, the drive to be the best. Fueled by my faith in my training, I will overcome all obstacles. I am brave! I am not afraid to face anyone on the track. I believe this is not a dream. It is my reality."

— Roger Bannister

Commonwealth Games jersey, 1954
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Six weeks after Bannister's record breaking race, Australian John Landy set a new record of 3:57.9. Bannister and Landy faced off at the Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, later that year. Bannister beat out Landy by just two tenths of a second. Bannister wore this cotton jersey in that race.

— Gift of Sir Roger Bannister

Roger Bannister
First to Run a Mile in under Four Minutes

Roger Bannister's impact on America—and the world—was immediate. The young Englishman changed the perception of human limitations when he broke a seemingly insurmountable barrier: the sub-four-minute mile. The Oxford University medical student used intense interval training, an innovative distance running and sprint technique, to fine-tune his speed. On May 6, 1954, at the British Amateur Athletic Association in Oxford, Bannister brought in a time of 3:59.4, hailed around the world as the "miracle mile."

Bannister's performance and new record captured the imagination of people around the world—especially Americans. "The Running Doctor" was the first international sports star celebrated in this country for his heroic accomplishments. He was Sports Illustrated's first Sportsman of the Year in 1955.

A psychological barrier was shattered. What once was impossible became standard. In a post-war world where technology was on the rise, Bannister's feat was viewed as an exhilarating testament to the power of the human body and spirit.

Name: Roger Gilbert Bannister
Born: Harrow, Middlesex, England, 1929–
  • First to break the four-minute mile (3:59.4), 1954
  • Chairman of Sports Council of Great Britain, 1971– 1974
  • President of International Council for Sports and Recreation, 1976– 1983
  • Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, 1975
  • Graduated from Oxford University Medical School, became neurologist
  • Editor of numerous medical books and journals, 1990–

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National Museum of American History   Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service