Breaking the four-minute barrier
Cambridge is well and truly on the map as a centre offering young sporting aspirants a chance to compete at an elite level in their chosen field.
Increasingly, families choose to locate here, affording their kids with the opportunity to train in cycling, rowing, athletics, watersports, equestrian competition, triathlon, or numerous other sporting codes.
Time will reveal the ‘‘champions-in-the-making’’ that are among us. Some will possess that ‘‘X’’ Factor which makes for truly ground-breaking accomplishments - whether it be in sport, or equally, in any other endeavour.
These will be the ones likely to rise to the challenge of taking things to another level of achievement.
In May, 64 years ago, a young 25 year old exemplified the quest for beating records and going ‘‘beyond’’ known thresholds, by becoming the first athlete ever, to run a sub four-minute mile.
Roger Bannister began the race of his life at Iffley Road Track at Oxford University, watched by about 3000 spectators.
Informed experts had emphatically decreed that it would be physiologically impossible for a human being to ever run a mile in under four minutes.
This 25-year-old trainee doctor believed the limitation existed in mental attitude, rather than in any physical constraints of the body.
It’s inspirational, to me anyway, watching actual footage of the race with Roger Bannister (later Sir), narrating in his dignified British ‘‘plumb’’.
His voice over, which was added retrospectively, gives wonderful insight into his thoughts, emotions and strategies throughout the phases of the race, up to his finishing kick with just over a half-lap to go- about 275 yards out from the finishing tape.
It was a phenomenal achievement -yet his record was so short lived. It was broken only 46 days later by an Australian runner named Landy.
Others then followed in relatively quick succession. The ‘‘four-minute barrier’’ had been broken. But it was Roger Bannister who broke through a perceived ceiling and in doing so, he paved the way for others.
Since May 1954, that ceiling has been successively broken by over 1400 athletes, and it’s now the accepted standard of any male professional middle distance runner. To date, the mile record has been lowered by almost 17 seconds, currently standing at 3:43.13.
Becoming a distinguished neurologist, Sir Roger Bannister felt prouder of his contribution to medical science than he ever was of breaking the four minute mile. The point here is that people who believe greater things are possible, help create breakthrough momentum for others.
Those who believe, dream and pursue bigger and better things, in spite of challenges, are a gift to us all. They provide inspiration to forge beyond existent limitations. Cambridge is a wonderful community, blessed with people full of amazing God-given potential. May our renown and place on the map, be for championing hope and encouraging in others the realisation of their highest possibility.
-Murray Smith is the Senior Pastor at Bridges Church Cambridge Cambridge Edition welcomes letters and opinion articles to its Conversations page. Letters can be about 200 words and opinion articles, 400 words. Please send in your contributions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Murray Smith, Bridges Church.