Diane Leather

Birthday: 01/07/33 Mile PR: 4:45.00 - 1955 (former world best)
Metric Mile (1500m) PR: 4:22.2 – 1955
College: University of Birmingham
Current Residence: England

On May 29, 1954 during the Midland Championships in Birmingham, England, Diane Leather became the first woman to break the 5 minute Mile barrier with a time of 4:59.6 finishing well before any of her competitors. At the time she was a 21-year-old analytical chemist at the University of Birmingham. Because the IAAF did not keep records above 800 meters for women at that time, she was only acknowledged with a world’s best time; not a world record. She had competed in the 800 meters earlier that afternoon.

Over the next year, she dropped her Mile "best" to 4:45.0 – a time that stood for seven years.

Leather had only been training for two years when she went sub-5. During her career she had won five WAAA titles between 1954 and 1957 and she also won 4 consecutive national cross country titles (1953-56). In 1954 and 1958 she was a silver medalist at the European Championships in the 800 meters.

She was an Olympian in Rome 1960, competing in the 800 meters as Mrs. Diane Charles.

FUN FACT: Diane was a field hockey player before she became a dedicated runner.

FUN FACT II: She was inducted into the England Athletics Hall of Fame in October 2013.

News

Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of Diane Leather Breaking the 5 Minute Mile Barrier

May 29, 2014

By Peter John L. Thompson

This article has been published in its entiriety with the author's permission. It was initially published by the Canadian Athletics Coaching Center on their members blog.

Many of you reading this blog are aware of the the 60th anniversary of breaking the four-minute...

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Sixty years ago Diane Leather smashed world record but not sex barrier

May 27, 2014

Leather’s run was not recognized as a world record, only a world’s best, because the IAAF did not keep records above 800m for women. And that is a story in itself.

By Sean Ingle, The Guardian

Sixty years ago this May, on a crushed cinder track in the Midlands, an athlete ran into history by...

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Diane Leather’s Fantastic Sub-Five

May 08, 2014

The barrier breaker looks back on her historic sub-five Mile of 60 years ago

May 6, 1954, might be a date forever etched in history, but just 23 days after Roger Bannister’s barrier-breaking sub-four-minute Mile, a woman made a similar breakthrough.

However, whereas Bannister’s achievement is...

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