Bannister vs. Landy 1954 showdown, Coe’s 1984 gold medal defense still resonate
"Yes, Landy has a lead of three yards. It's 220 yards to go and I don't believe Bannister is going to be able to catch him..."
By Mike Rowbottom, InsideTheGames.biz
Significant anniversaries of two great foot races fall either side of this weekend - races won by two Britons who, through their performances on these and other occasions, have earned timeless renown in world athletics.
Tomorrow will be exactly 30 years in Los Angeles since Sebastian Coe became the first man to defend the Olympic 1500 meters title as he finished just under a second clear of his domestic rival, 1983 world champion Steve Cram, following one of the most remorseless demonstrations of willpower ever witnessed on the track.
And Thursday (August 7) marked the 60th anniversary of what has come be known as the "Miracle Mile" at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, a race in which Britain's Roger Bannister, who earlier in the year had become the first man to break 4 minutes, showed similar determination to overcome the challenge of John Landy, the Australian who had bettered his landmark time a month later.
What was boldly described in that summer of 1954 as the "Mile of the Century" had engaged the imagination of athletics followers around the world. Britain's Daily Telegraph described it as a "tremendous duel between the two 4 minute Milers", adding: "This is the perfect race, in that it is a personal struggle rather than a contest against the stopwatch. The whole world is awaiting the outcome."
As the race got underway, the TV commentator set what he considered to be the scene: "The question is, today, whether Bannister's tremendous finishing kick in the last quarter can offset the blistering pace that Landy likes to set."
He was not far wrong.
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