Down Under Four Minutes

first_imgOxford University Athletics Club went back in time on Thursday to relive the momentous occasion when Sir Roger Bannister, then a medical student in Oxford, became the first man to run a mile in under four minutes, a feat that had been regarded by experts as beyond human limitation. Fifty years after breaking this barrier, Sir Roger returned to Iffley Road for the anniversary match between the Oxford University athletics team and the Amateur Athletics Association U23 team, with some guest competitors including Sonia O’Sullivan and John Mayock. The events on the track dominated the day, beginning with the men’s 110m hurdles. Despite the fact that there were only two competitors, Richard Baderin swept past the line in 14.9 seconds. The only victory for Oxford came in the men’s 200m where Oxford alumnus, Finlay Wright ran an impressive 22.17 seconds, with Toleme Ezekiel finishing in 23.06 seconds. Both men also performed well in the 100m. In the women’s races, there were good efforts in both sprints from Helen Edmundson, who came second in both the 100m and 200m, and Katy Whear, who came third in the 100m and fourth in the 200m. The placings were similar in the 400m – Sophie Scamps, Lizzie Braithwaite and Katherine Sams finished second, third and fourth respectively. In the men’s race, Jonan Boto finished strongly in 49.86 seconds to take third place, followed by Robert Lawton, Michael Lokale and Chris Wright. The familiar voice of BBC commentator Paul Dickenson also kept spectators informed about the progress of the field events. In the shot putt, Oxford’s Stephen McCauley came third with a Blues distance of 14.03m, while Tom Hayman, Jenny Duff, Olivia Reade and Rota Vavilova all putted well too. The high jump was more closely contested, with Sean Gourley and Oliver Card jumping 1m85 and 1m80 respectively; in the women’s event Ailsa Wallace cleared 1m65, followed by Danielle Fidge jumping 1m60. The elite mile races formed the highlight of the competition. The women’s race was won convincingly, and unsurprisingly, by guest star Sonia O’Sullivan in 4:27.79. Oxford’s representatives, Emily Crowley and Clare Martin, finished in fifth and sixth places. The gun for the men’s race was fired at 6pm – exactly the same time as the race began 50 years ago, and Bannister rang the bell used in the historic 1954 race to signal one lap to go. The race was won by Craig Mottram of Australia in 3:56.64, a new track record and a time which, in 1954, would have beaten Bannister into second place. Notable performances were also put in by OUAC captain, Fraser Thompson in 4:07.88, and Nick Talbot in 4:12.53. Since Sir Roger broke the fourminute barrier with a time of 3:59.4, nearly 1000 athletes from 60 countries have followed in his footsteps. Perhaps this is why Sir Roger remains so modest about his accomplishment, “None of my athletics was my greatest achievement of my life”, he said. “My medical work has been my achievement, and my family.” His balanced approach remains an inspiration to aspiring sportsmen worldwide.ARCHIVE: 2nd week TT 2004last_img