It was a blustery late spring day in 1954 and a young Oxford medical student flung himself over the line in a mile race. There was an agonising pause, and then the timekeeper announced the record: three minutes, fifty-nine point four seconds. But no one heard anything after that first word - 'three'. One of the most iconic barriers of sport had been broken, and Roger Bannister had become the first man to run a mile in under four minutes. To this day, more men have conquered Mount Everest than have achieved what the slender, unassuming student managed that afternoon. Sixty years on and the letters still arrive on Roger Bannister's doormat, letters testifying to the enduring appeal of the four-minute mile and the example it set for the generation of budding athletes who were inspired to attempt the impossible. In this frank memoir, Sir Roger tells the full story of the talent and dedication that made him not just one of the most celebrated athletes of the last century, but also a distinguished doctor, neurologist and one of the nation's best-loved public figures.
With characteristically trenchant views on drugs in sport, the nature of modern athletics and record-breaking, the extraordinary explosion in running as a leisure activity, and the Olympic legacy, this rare and brilliant autobiography gives a fascinating insight into the life of a man who has lived life to the fullest.
Sir Roger Bannister CBE is a former Olympic athlete who is best known for being the first person to run the mile in under four minutes. Later becoming a distinguished neurologist and Master of Pembroke College, Oxford, he is now retired and lives in Oxford.