Athletics legend Roger Bannister has died aged 88 - British media

Roger Bannister's four-minute mile record may not have lasted long but, following his death almost 64 years on, he will forever be remembered for producing one of athletics' most iconic moments.

Bannister, who was a medical student at the time, clocked a time of 3 minutes 59.4 second at a sports ground in Oxford on May 6, 1954, to beat a record by Swedish runner Gundar Haegg of 4:01.4 that had stood for nine years.

His new world record lasted for just 46 days when his main rival, Australian athlete John Landy, covered the same distance in 3 minutes and 57.4 seconds.

Bannister won gold over a mile at the 1954 Commonwealth Games, before later becoming a leading neurologist.

He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2011.

"He banked his treasure in the hearts of his friends", they added, in a statement published by the Press Association news agency.

Bannister then gave up running to pursue a long and distinguished medical career.

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"I have seen, and looked after, patients with so many neurological and other disorders that I am not surprised I have acquired an illness", he said at the time.

Coe and Steve Cram, who followed in the spike tracks of the sport's first sub-four minute miler to also become world beaters, emphasised that, while Bannister had been their running hero, he meant so much more to the life of his home nation.

"It's in the nature of things, there's a gentle irony to it".

"It had become rather like Everest, a challenge for the human spirit", Bannister said, reflecting on his achievement.

Cram felt the next generation of athletes were just as inspired by Bannister's legacy.

British Athletics tweeted: "All at British Athletics are incredibly saddened by the passing of Sir Roger Bannister at the age of 88".

The current mile record was set by Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj, who set a time of 3:43.13 in Rome on July 7 1999.

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