Roger Bannister, first to run mile in under 4 minutes, dies

Roger Bannister, the first runner to break the 4-minute barrier in the mile, has died. He was 88. Bannister's family said in a statement that he died peacefully on Saturday in Oxford.

British athlete Roger Bannister, the first man to run a mile in under four minutes, has died aged 88, British media reported on Sunday, citing a statement from his family.

Bannister became the first man to break the four-minute mile when he clocked three minutes 59.4 seconds at a sports ground in Oxford on May 6, 1954. British Prime Minister Theresa May led the tributes to the former athlete.

"Sir Roger Bannister was a great British sporting icon whose achievements were an inspiration to us all. He will be greatly missed," she said on Twitter.

The Briton, who also set a British record on route to the 1500 metres final at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, was helped by pacesetters Christopher Chataway and Chris Brasher during his record-breaking run.

Australian John Landy surpassed Bannister's record just a month later with a time of 3:57.9.

Bannister also won gold at the Commonwealth Games later that year before retiring from athletics to pursue medical studies full-time. He became a neurologist.

The current mile record was set by Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj, who set a time of 3:43.13 in Rome on July 7 1999.

Bannister was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2011.