Sixty years ago today, a young English medical student stepped up to the starting line of a cinder track in Oxford. Three minutes, 59.4 seconds later, Roger Bannister landed himself a place in history.
"It was a target," Bannister, now 85 and coping with Parkinson's, told The Associated Press in an interview. "There was this magic about four symmetrical laps of one minute each. I think it still remains something that is of interest and intrigue."
Before Bannister's historic run, racing under four minutes in the mile was thought to be a physical impossibility — although there were plenty of men besides the young Brit who were also trying to disprove that theory. But on a rainy day in May of 1954, Bannister, led by his pacers Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway, cracked under four minutes first.
While hundreds of athletes have since broken through the barrier (Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj set the current record of 3:43.13 in 1999), Bannister's accomplishment remains part of track and field's classic lore. He recently published his autobiography, Twin Tracks, because "there may be biographies written, and I think I'd rather like to tell it myself," Bannister told the AP.
Below, images from the day a young man proved what was thought to be impossible was actually within reach. --Sarah Eberspacher