Personal Best: Roger Bannister laps in at 88

    Back in a still rough post-war era reviving personal dreams - measurable, daunting, somehow achievable.

    It's not that other sports measures aren't great, or that the 4-minute mile wasn't in a way much more arbitrary than the ascent of Everest, but still, a definite challenge in an age of breaking the sound barrier and other advances.

    In a way, Bannister also revived the reputation of track & field after its pre-war politicization (oddly enough, rumors that Hitler had refused Jesse Owens congratulations were false - he actually waved - but the reporters would have their spin, while Owens' domestic snubs by FDR were likely as much due to his alignment with the anti-FDR Republicans.)

    Bannister as a medical student also came to emblemize the growing side of sports training, with performance aided by medical analysis and understanding in a way that fit the growing turn to science in the 50's.

    But in the end, despite the competitors, training and the crowds, it was just Bannister vs the stop watch. Nothing fancy like Salvador Dali's, much less Albert Einstein's. Just one that measured 3 minutes 59.4 seconds. And that was sports history. And now, alas, is Roger at 88. Take another lap, sir - you deserve it.



    He was one of the greats, no doubt.

    Latest Comments