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GO iffley road sports ground in oxford

Iffley Road Sports Ground in Oxford

The sports centre on Iffley Road [map] offers Oxford students the opportunity to participate in a great number of sporting events including football and hockey, but it also has its own place in history as the place where Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile.

Bannister said of the event, some years later: “I felt at that moment that it was my chance to do something supremely well,” but no one could have envisaged just how well he would do as he propelled himself and the sports ground itself into the Guinness Book of Records.

Roger Bannister was born in Harrow, Middlesex in 1929, and he enjoyed youthful success as a runner at regional level.

In 1946, Bannister went to Oxford University to study medicine. He devoted all his spare time to the track and became an accomplished middle distance runner. The fascination at the time for all middle distance men was the four-minute mile.

Basically, it was widely assumed that running under the four-minute mile was impossible for a human being. Bannister believed it was possible, and used his knowledge as a physician to give him as much help as possible. He painstakingly researched mechanical aspects of running, and developed scientific training methods to aid him.

At Iffley Road Roger Bannister realised his dream in 1954 when he, along with two pacemakers Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway, ran to victory and recorded a time of three minutes and 59.4 seconds.

A place in the record books was secured for Bannister and although the record was broken two months later by John Landy, Bannister was later to beat Landy to decide who the best mile runner was. Bannister was, again, victorious.

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