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Bannister's family said that he died on Saturday in Oxford, the English city where the runner cracked the feat many had thought humanly impossible.

Sir Roger shot to fame in 1954 when, aged 25, he ran a mile in just 59.4 seconds at Iffley Road sports ground in Oxford. Using training techniques including fell running and periodization similar to those later used by Arthur Lydiard, Bannister, spurred on by the knowledge that Australian John Landy had the same goal, devoted himself to his task.

The condition progressively damages part of the brain over time and is one Bannister was familiar with, even before he was first diagnosed a few years ago, from his lengthy career as neurologist.

Tributes poured in from around the world of athletics. "It is very hard to break records during Olympic competition, but winning races was better than holding world records". "He was an incredibly inspirational person to not only people of my era, but to before and after". That includes 21 who have run miles under four minutes since the beginning of 2018. "His achievement was voted one of the greatest moments of the century and to have done something like that was awesome".

"This is a day of intense sadness both for our nation and for all of us in athletics", said IAAF president Lord Coe, who set the record in the mile in 1981.

"There is not a single athlete of my generation who was not inspired by Roger and his achievements both on and off the track".

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Four-time Olympic gold medal victor Sir Mo Farah tweeted: "I'm so sorry to hear the sad news about Roger Bannister".

Four-time Olympic champion Sir Mo Farah described Bannister as "always humble, supportive and encouraging" and "an inspiration to so many". In just a year, he showed his natural talent and ran a 4:24:06 mile on only three half-hour training sessions a week. "My thoughts are with his family and friends".

For Cram, Bannister's legacy is two-fold. Because many runners had gotten close to the four-minute barrier without beating it, sports writers of the day just started advancing this notion that experts believed the feat to be impossible, in sort of the same way that experts once warned the human body could not endure speeds of greater than 60 miles per hour.

"His legacy was that he did something which was a sporting achievement which was one of the first to be filmed, it went around the world and brought a sense of awe and wonder to what we try to do on a daily basis", Cram said. No woman has ever run the mile in less than four minutes.

"Every athlete owes a great debt of gratitude to Sir Roger Bannister", Johnson told the BBC."He set up the idea for athletes of pushing the limits of human achievement, like (long jumper) Bob Beamon went on to do".