Bannister, Sir Roger Gilbert, 1929–, British athlete. On May 6, 1954, at Oxford's Iffley Road track, Bannister, a physician, became the first man to run the mile in less than 4 min, a barrier many experts had long considered unbreakable. His time was 3 min 59.4 sec. Australia's John Landy and New Zealand's Peter Snell bettered the record that year, but in August, Bannister defeated Landy at the British Empire Games in Vancouver, clocking 3:58.8 in a thrilling race. For his accomplishments, he became Sports Illustrated's first Sportsman of the Year.