roger bannister about to cross the tape at the end of his record picture

Remembering Roger Bannister, the First to Shatter the 4-Minute Mile

Some athletes change the game. Even fewer change history. On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister, a gawky medical student from St. Mary’s College, did both when he lunged across the finish line at Oxford, England's Iffley Road track in 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds, becoming the first person to break the 4-minute mile. The sports icon died Saturday, March 3, at the age of 88. Here are some photos of Bannister’s remarkable achievement and lasting legacy...

Two years before his historic run, Bannister (left) entered the 1952 Helsinki Summer Games as the British favorite in the 1500m, the Olympic distance race known as the “metric mile.” The then-23 year old broke the British record but finished fourth, missing out on a medal. Popperfoto/Getty Images Two years before his historic run, Bannister (left) entered the 1952 Helsinki Summer Games as the British favorite in the 1500m, the Olympic distance race known as the “metric mile.” The then-23 year old broke the British record but finished fourth, missing out on a medal. The disappointment fueled his desire to accomplish the feat even more. &quot;My failure to win the 1,500m gold medal [in Helsinki] was a huge knock to my pride, shattering to my friends and family and to the Great British public.” Bannister <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/10731234/Roger-Bannister-The-day-I-broke-the-four-minute-mile.html/"target="_blank"> wrote in his book</a>, ‘The First Four Minutes’. “I felt it was necessary to restore the faith that had been so shaken by my defeat.” Keystone/Getty Images The disappointment fueled his desire to accomplish the feat even more. "My failure to win the 1,500m gold medal [in Helsinki] was a huge knock to my pride, shattering to my friends and family and to the Great British public.” Bannister wrote in his book, ‘The First Four Minutes’. “I felt it was necessary to restore the faith that had been so shaken by my defeat.” His chance would come on a windy afternoon in Oxford, England, in 1954 at a meet between Oxford and the Amateur Athletic Association. Bob Thomas/Getty Images His chance would come on a windy afternoon in Oxford, England, in 1954 at a meet between Oxford and the Amateur Athletic Association. With two pace-setters, Bannister (left) entered the final lap needing a time of 59 seconds to achieve the seemingly-impossible. Norman Potter/Getty Images With two pace-setters, Bannister (left) entered the final lap needing a time of 59 seconds to achieve the seemingly-impossible. Bannister sprinted the final stretch grimacing in pain, arms flailing and legs pumping. “The world seemed to stand still, or did not exist,” he wrote. “I felt at that moment that it was my chance to do one thing supremely well. I drove on, impelled by a combination of fear and pride.” Bettmann Bannister sprinted the final stretch grimacing in pain, arms flailing and legs pumping. “The world seemed to stand still, or did not exist,” he wrote. “I felt at that moment that it was my chance to do one thing supremely well. I drove on, impelled by a combination of fear and pride.” An exhausted Bannister collapsed into the arms of fans after blazing through the finish and into sports immortality. John Sadovy/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images An exhausted Bannister collapsed into the arms of fans after blazing through the finish and into sports immortality. Although witnessed by just 1,200 spectators, the massive achievement elevated Bannister into a global icon. Still, the 25-year-old was back at medical school the next day. Douglas Miller/Getty Images Although witnessed by just 1,200 spectators, the massive achievement elevated Bannister into a global icon. Still, the 25-year-old was back at medical school the next day. His running career would last only a year after setting the record, as he retired to focus on his career as a neurologist. Popperfoto/Popperfoto/Getty Images His running career would last only a year after setting the record, as he retired to focus on his career as a neurologist. Bannister would be knighted for his service to Britain and serve as the chairman of the country&#39;s Sports Council. PA Images Archive/PA Images via Getty Images Bannister would be knighted for his service to Britain and serve as the chairman of the country's Sports Council. Bannister passed away in Oxford, the same city where he had done what many thought was humanly impossible. Bob Martin/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images Bannister passed away in Oxford, the same city where he had done what many thought was humanly impossible.