Diane Leather Charles
Birthday: 01/07/33 Mile PR: 4:45.00 - 1955 (former world best)
Metric Mile (1500m) PR: 4:22.2 – 1955
Hometown: Streetly, Staffordshire, England
College: University of Birmingham
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 & 1957 and she also won 4 consecutive national cross country titles (1953-56) as well as three International Cross Country Championships crowns, 1954-55 and 1957. In 1954 & 1958, Diane earned silver medals at the European Championships in the 800 meters.
She was an Olympian in Rome 1960, competing in the 800 meters as Mrs. Diane Charles.
Leather, who was trained as a micro-analyst at chemistry, later became a social worker in London and Cornwall. The legend & pioneer passed away on September 5, 2018.
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.