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Athletics legend Roger Bannister has died aged 88 - British media

Bannister became the first man to break the four-minute mile when he clocked 3 minutes 59.4 seconds at a sports ground in Oxford on 6 May 1954.

FILE: Roger Bannister crosses the finish line on 6 May, 1954 to break the four-minute mile barrier. Picture: Facebook.com

LONDON - British athlete Roger Bannister, the first man to run a mile in under four minutes, has died aged 88, British media reported on Sunday, citing a statement from his family.

Bannister became the first man to break the four-minute mile when he clocked 3 minutes 59.4 seconds at a sports ground in Oxford on 6 May 1954.

British Prime Minister Theresa May led the tributes to the former athlete.

“Sir Roger Bannister was a great British sporting icon whose achievements were an inspiration to us all. He will be greatly missed,” she said on Twitter.

The Briton, who also set a British record on route to the 1,500 metres final at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, was helped by pacesetters Christopher Chataway and Chris Brasher during his record-breaking run.

Australian John Landy surpassed Bannister’s record just a month later with a time of 3:57.9.

Bannister also won gold at the Commonwealth Games later that year before retiring from athletics to pursue medical studies full-time. He became a neurologist.

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

Bannister was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2011.