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  • Roger Bannister Athletics Memorabilia

    Posted on October 10, 2011 by Selby




    A sports memorabilia blog
    Roger Bannister Athletic Memorabilia
    Sir Roger Bannister (1929) is the person forever synonymous with the breaking of the famous 4 minute mile and that was achieved on a cinder track in adverse weather conditions.
    Athletics ‘ memorabilia is always in demand with particular interest in Olympics memorabilia, one special period of interest would be the 1952 Olympics, I am always interested in purchasing for example presentations, race attire, hand signed photos, programmes, tickets, medals and other Olympic paraphernalia along with sports memorabilia from athletic track and field events.
    Bannister has carried out a number of signings notably one for the Irish Milers club at the City West Hotel Dublin.

    Roger was born in England and attended Harrow the public school situated in North West London prior to Oxford University. I mention his attendance at school and college as both institutions have always held, encouraged and supported amateur athletic events. (In 1953 the Surrey school Athletic Association introduced the mile race to its programme of events).
    Although a tremendous achievement at the time and in the circumstances, the mile is nowadays occasionally run in less than 4 minutes by top track athletes. Training in the late 1940s early 1950s was considered light compared to modern day standards, and then there are all sorts of other considerations such as kit, diet, motivational aspects etc.
    Bannister’s running career began whilst at Oxford in 1946 it was there after noticeable improvements in his running times that he began to train seriously, he set his sights on the 1952 Olympic games to be held in Helsinki, Bannister now training at an international level, his times improving, his confidence heightened, although finishing in fourth place set a British record in the 1500m.
    Following his 1952 Olympics efforts, Bannister considered giving up running however fortunately instead he set himself a new goal: To beat the four minute mile. To achieve this he drew up a concerted training programme which would require all of his perseverance and concentration, fitting this in with his medical studies at St Mary’s Hospital medical school took a lot of time management and dedication.
    His first attempt at the four minute mile was at Oxford in 1953 when he was paced by the now famous track athlete Chris Chataway, who was later to establish his own career. This was the race where Bannister realised that the four minute mile was just possibly within his reach.
    Bannister was not the only athlete at this time who was attempting to break the four minute mile, American Wes Santee and Australian John Landy were both competing around the 4.02 mark, Bannister who closely followed Landy’s efforts became concerned that the athlete would succeed with each attempt and realised that he had to make his record breaking attempt soon.
    On May 6th 1954 at Oxford competing for the British Amateur Athletic Associating in front of a few thousand spectators Roger Bannister made history, in the company of Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway he broke the 4 minute barrier achieving a time of 3.59.4, at the age of 25 Bannister had made history.
    Bannister was knighted in in 1975 for his service to Sport England.
    Sports memorabilia from the 1954 event is sought after and there is only a limited amount available I am fortunate to have a hand signed photo of Bannister at the event.
    Tony Selby
    Sports memorabilia

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