Roger Bannister Four-minute Mile 1954

Roger Bannister Four-minute Mile 1954 In defiance of contemporary wisdom that running a four-minute mile was impossible, on May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister who was, at the time, a 25-year-old medical student, made the ‘impossible’ possible by running four quarter-mile laps on a cinder track, at what is now the Iffley Road Sports Complex, in Oxford in 3 minutes 59.4 minutes. In so doing, he beat the world record, of 4 minutes 1.4 seconds, set by Swedish athlete Gunder Hägg in Malmö in 1945 but, by breaking through the seemingly impenetrable four-minute barrier, became a yardstick for every middle-distance runner on the planet ever since.

Bannister employed two pacemakers, his friends Christopher Brasher and Christopher Chataway, who were both highly accomplished athletes in their own right. Urged along by Bannister, Brasher led for the first two laps, before giving way to Chataway; Bannister, meanwhile, soldiered on in second place, on the shoulder of the leader, before making his finishing effort heading down the back straight on the final lap, which he needed to complete in under 59 seconds.

That he did and, pale and drawn after his extertion, his own words, ‘leapt at the tape like a man taking his last desperate spring to save himself from a chasm that threatens to engulf him.’ He collapsed, exhausted, in fact, almost unconscious, into the arms of his Austrian coach, Franz Stampfl. Norris McWhirter, soon to be commmisioned to compile ‘The Guiness Book of World Records’ with his twin brother, Ross, announced the result; as soon as he said ‘three minutes’ pandemonium broke out and Bannister, Brasher and Chataway set off on a gleeful lap of honour.

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GB Women’s Hockey Olympic Gold Medal 2016

GB Women's Hockey Olympic Gold Medal 2016 In August, 2016, at the Olympic Hockey Centre in Deodoro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Great Britain women’s hockey team made history by winning a first Olympic gold medal. Great Britain qualified for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio by virtue of having won the Women’s EuroHockey Nations Championship, at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, the previous August.

In Rio, the team progressed from Group B unbeaten in five matches, scoring twelve goals and conceding just four, before beating Spain 3-1 in the quarter-finals and New Zealand 3-0 in the semi-finals. In the final, Great Britain faced the Netherlands, gold medallists at the two previous Summer Olympics, in London in 2012 and Beijing in 2008, and the reigning world champions. Nevertheless, after goalkeeper Madeleine ‘Maddie’ Hinch saved an early penalty stroke from Dutch captain Maartje Paumen, Great Britain led at the end of the first quarter against their distinguished opponents, courtesy of a tenth-minute tap-in by forward Lily Owsley.

The Netherlands equalised six minutes later and led 2-1 after a Paumen strike in the twenty-fifth minute. A minute later, against the run of play, British defender Crista Cullen – who had been coaxed out of retirement the previous year took advantage of a kindly deflection to take the score to 2-2. The Netherlands led again after thirty-eight minutes when fearsome striker swept home from a short corner; her effort was cancelled out by Great Britain forward Nicola White in the final quarter and, with the scores level at 3-3, the match went to penalties. In the penalty shootout, goalkeeper Hinch proved to be the heroine of the hour, saving all four Dutch efforts, while Helen Richardson-Walsh and Hollie Webb slotted home to give Great Britain a dramatic 2-0 win.

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