On this day in history—May 6 1954—Oxford graduate Roger Bannister became the first person in the world to break the four-minute mile, at the Iffley Road Track. Watched by about 3,000 spectators, he smashed the mile in 3 minutes 59.4 seconds.
My brother Mike was a ten pound pom. After ten years in Australia he made it back to the UK on holiday. He took my eighteen-month-old son Justin onto the Iffley Road cinder track and they both ran a lap savouring the memory of May 6, 1954. Mike and I had watched Roger’s achievement on the seven-inch TV. It was truly inspirational and had signalled the idea that all things were possible, although the possibility that I would meet Roger Bannister was absurd.
How wonderful that Sir Roger allowed me to cast him away on my mythical island of Oxtopia. He not only graced the launch of, Oxford Castaways, in 2012 but made the closing speech. I told the above story and introduced Mike to his hero: an unforgettable tear-jerker of a moment.
Roger not only spoke at the launch of Oxford Castaways but attended the launch of all three of my castaway books. After I sent him to Oxtopia, he began work on his memoir and I was privileged to review Twin Tracks. The Madras Courier published this feature by me after his death. Last year a plaque to him was unveiled in Westminster Abbey. He would have been delighted that it was not with the sportsmen but with the scientist. He was also a ground breaking neurologist.
He was a generous man and opened the KOA Fun Run in 2014 and invited the organisers and winners to tea at his home.