Beyond Personal Barriers
The Roger Bannister Story

September 2012
David Skinner

The recently ended 2012 Summer Olympics saw a host of long held records fall and compelling even chilling and exciting sports events unfold. Perhaps however, the greatest sporting achievement that ever was held in London, was not in these Games, not on this track, or on this time keeper's watch, but the breaking of a barrier that had stood unbeaten since the beginning of man.

"It Is My Reality"

For thousands of years experts believed, "No man could break the 4 Minute Mile," and for thousands of years it was so! However, one person with an incredibly powerful belief in himself had another idea. He was quoted as saying, “I believe this is not a dream. It is my reality." And indeed it was, for on that blustery day of May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister crushed the unthinkable 4-minute mile barrier and perhaps in a sense unleashed mankind's limits of self accomplishment; not for the white chalk finish line or for the gold medal ribbons, but for all the things seemingly impossible that have since unfolded. Roger Bannister had accomplished more than "his reality." He had proven the unlimited possibilities of mankind!

Certainly this is an amazing testimonial to the power of one's personal belief and overcoming the barriers in our lives, however there is lot more to this story.

The Rest of the Story

Bannister’s record stood for a mere 46 days before it was broken. Within only two years, more than fifty others also ran sub-four minute miles.

Thousands have done so since and  it is not uncommon to be done by a talented runner in high school.

What hadn’t happened in the previous 6,000 years of mankind has become almost commonplace today. The current 'One Mile' record holder is Hicham El Guerrouj from Morocco with a time of 3:43.13.

Not Born To Run, But Determined to Win!

Bannister was not a born runner or an instant success on the track. He started his athletic career at age 17, he barely trained and was overlooked as a contender for the 1948 Olympics. Yet, inspired by what he saw, he reapplied his efforts though his improvements were slow . . . the ribbons and awards were few. Still he had the grit and the determination to carry on. He qualified for the 1952 Olympics, yet his personal results were sadly 4th Place. Sitting there, alongside the track, exhausted, in the jaws of defeat, he dug down and found the spirit to persevere once more. From those deepest moments of despair, sprung his untoward will to challenge failure, until two years later on that blustery day of May, he readied to set history straight. He would etch his mark, a mark no man had made before, a mark of 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds! A world record!

While There Is Much To The Story; 

There Is More To The Man!

If you care to follow the life and sports career of Roger Bannister, his devotion to athletics, his Knighthood and his career as a world renowned neurologist, you can find it on the Internet or you can purchase his autobiography on Amazon - The First Four Minutes 


The question for all of us is however, should not simply be the amazing accomplishments of this singular man. No, no, not at all. The question should be: "How can I incorporate his determination into my very being?"


While someone would have eventually broken the "4 Minute Mile," perhaps even an unknown Moroccan runner, Roger's lessons should not be any greater for the 'lesser of us' . . . than for the 'rest of us.' Thank you Sir Roger for showing the way and giving so many others the chance to break our own personal barriers.


As of this date, Sir Roger Gilbert Bannister is 83 years old, living well and still running, although he calls it "shuffling."