A ‘living legend’ and a ‘man of great distinction’ are just two of the tributes that have been paid to Sir Roger Bannister who died on Saturday, aged 88.
Sir Roger ensured his place among the sporting greats when he became the first man to run a mile in under four minutes.
He only held the record achieved at the Iffley Road sports ground in Oxford on May 6, 1954 for 46 days but it was enough to earn his place in the history books.
A statement from his family said: “Sir Roger Bannister, died peacefully in Oxford on 3 March, aged 88, surrounded by his family who were as loved by him, as he was loved by them.
“He banked his treasure in the hearts of his friends.”
The middle-distance runner studied and worked at the University of Oxford where he was an active member of the Athletics Club, achieving victories in the Varsity Match Mile (1948, 1949 and 1950) and cross country (1949).
In a career littered with outstanding sporting achievements, Sir Roger became Empire & Commonwealth Champion at the mile in 1954, European Champion at 1500m, and secured fourth at the 1952 Olympic Games.
He was awarded a knighthood in 1975 before his appointment as president of the World Sports Council the following year.
In 1977, he became the first Briton to win West Germany’s Hans-Heinrich Siegbert prize for services to sport.
In addition to his prowess on the track, Sir Roger was also a globally renowned neurologist, doctor and academic.
Ever humble, he said: “None of my athletics was the greatest achievement.
“My medical work has been my achievement and my family with 14 grandchildren. Those are real achievements.”
Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, said: “Roger Bannister epitomised what it means to be a living legend.
“He was a regular presence at university events and remained committed to Oxford University to the end, engaging with students, challenging academics, and inspiring all of us.”
Lord Patten of Barnes, Chancellor of Oxford University, said he was “a man of great distinction” and “we will miss him enormously”.
Lord Coe, president of athletics’ world governing body the IAAF, two-time Olympic 1500m gold medallist for Great Britain, said: “There is not a single athlete of my generation who was not inspired by Roger and his achievements both on and off the track.”
Sir Roger had been diagnosed with the neurological disorder Parkinson’s disease in 2011, adding: “It’s in the nature of things, there’s a gentle irony to it.”