It was in 1954 that the four minute barrier while running the mile race was broken. Now read about this thrilling race. The British Empire and Commonwealth Games wee on. The stands of the stadium were packed as spectators waited for the mile race to begin. Although there were eight men at the starting line, all eyes were on two – Roger Bannister from England and John Landy from Australia. Both had un the mile in less than four minutes earlier that year, something that was tought till then to be impossible. This was the first time they would compete against each other.

Although they were from different parts of the world, Bannister and Landy had many common characteristics. Both had the slender, wiry frame of middle-distance runners. Both had no full-time coaches and devised their own training methods and racing strategies.

However, the training methods and strategies the two followed were totally different. Landy followed a rigorous training schedule and during races it was his stamina that helped him defeat his opponents. Bannister, in contrast, alternated gentle and fast running trying to develop both speed and stamina. While running he stayed back for most of the race and relied on a burst of speed to surge ahead of his opponent in the final stages of the race.

When the mile race began, Landy finished the first lap about 7 metres ahead of Bannister and kept increasing the lead. It seemed as if Bannister was no match for Landy but by the half-way mark, Bannister was close at Landy’s heels.


Landy could not hear Banister running behind him because of the cheering crowds but could see Bannister’s shadow. Then 90 metres from the finish line, the shadow was gone. That was the instant Bannister overtook Landy and raced ahead in a burst of speed. Landy could go no faster. Bannister drove into the tape at the finish line. Landy crossed the line moments later. Together they jogged around the track and waved to a cheering crowd who had just witnessed a spectacular race. Both had run the mile in less than four minutes.