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Roger Bannister reveals he has Parkinson's disease

Bannister is best remembered for being the first man to run a sub-four minute mile

Roger Bannister achieved the impossible when he broke the four minute barrier for the mile.
Roger Bannister achieved the impossible when he broke the four minute barrier for the mile.
Image: PA/PA Wire/Press Association Images

JUST FOUR DAYS short of the 60th anniversary of the first sub-four minute mile, the man who achieved the feat has revealed he is suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

Roger Bannister, who completed his landmark run at Oxford’s Iffley Road May 6, 1954, told  BBC Radio Oxford he was first diagnosed with the illness three years ago.

The former neurologist said ”I am having troubles with walking. Ironically, it’s a neurological disorder – Parkinson’s disease.

“I have seen, and looked after, patients with so many neurological and other disorders that I am not surprised I have acquired an illness.

“It’s in the nature of things, there’s a gentle irony to it.

“I am being well looked after and I don’t intend to let it interfere – as much as I can.

“Just consider the alternatives – that is the way I look at it. One of my pleasures in life, apart from running, has been walking. Intellectually I am not [degenerating] and what is walking anyway?”

The record for the mile had stood at four minutes and one second for over a decade before Bannister dedicated his life to proving that – what many said was impossible – was, indeed, achievable.

While the 85-year old believes a similar breakthrough will come in the treatment of Parkinson’s some day, he feels that it is still some way off.

“I know quite a lot about it and have treated a lot of people with it.

“I am aware of all the research that’s been done. I think it will take some time before there is a breakthrough, but the management and drug treatments are improving all the time.”

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Steve O'Rourke

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