Legendary miler Sir Roger Bannister carries Olympic torch
Sir Roger Bannister returned to the Oxford, England, track where he broke the 4-minute barrier for the mile 58 years ago, walking slowly but smiling broadly as he carried the Olympic torch across the finish line.
The Associated Press
OXFORD, England — Sir Roger Bannister returned to the track where he broke the 4-minute barrier for the mile 58 years ago, walking slowly but smiling broadly as he carried the Olympic torch across the finish line Tuesday, 17 days before the start of the London Games.
The 83-year-old Bannister walked 30 yards along the track, holding the Olympic torch aloft in his left hand as hundreds cheered for a man who is an embodiment of sporting achievement in Britain.
"In a way, I'm back in the sport that I belong to," he said. "I spent 10 years training before I broke the 4-minute mile."
Bannister — who shattered an ankle in a car accident in 1975 and didn't run again — put his walking cane aside and leaned on a young man to descend three stairs from the podium where the Olympic torch was lit to start the day's relay.
He walked down the track before handing the torch to an Oxford doctoral student, Nicola Byrom, who ran a full lap wearing the white torchbearer uniform.
Bannister declined to wear the uniform, fueling speculation the Oxford-educated neurologist might put on the outfit to light the cauldron at the opening ceremony in London on July 27.
Bannister, who never won an Olympic medal, is among those considered a candidate to light the cauldron.
He declined to speculate, saying he was fully focused on Tuesday's torch-relay event.
Bannister said he felt "right at home" on the track where he ran a mile in 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds on May 6, 1954. These days, the Iffley Road track is called the Roger Bannister Running Track at Iffley Road Sports Complex.
"It's an honor to be included in a list of torch carriers, which has included injured soldiers back from Afghanistan and other places," Bannister said.
The strong winds on a chilly, rainy Tuesday reminded him of the historic day in 1954 when "the weather was so bad that I nearly decided not to attempt it."