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Roger Bannister suffering from Parkinson's disease

Updated: Friday, 02 May 2014 10:23 | Comments

Roger Bannister running the first sub four-minute mile on 6 May, 1954
Roger Bannister running the first sub four-minute mile on 6 May, 1954

Almost 60 years to the day since becoming the first man to run a mile in under four minutes, Roger Bannister has revealed he is suffering from Parkinson's disease.

The 85-year-old said he had been suffering with the degenerative nervous disease for three years but only revealed it in a BBC radio interview marking the anniversary of his run in Oxford on 6 May, 1954.

Bannister ran three minutes, 59.4 seconds on the Iffley Road track, now named after him, to break the four-minute barrier.

After a distinguished running career in which he also won a gold medal over one mile at the 1954 Commonwealth Games and the 1,500 metres at the European Championships in the same year, he became a neurologist.

He told BBC Radio Oxford: "I am having troubles with walking. Ironically it is a neurological disorder - Parkinson's.

"There's a gentle irony to it. I have seen and looked after patients with so many neurological and other disorders that's why I am not surprised I have acquired an illness.

"It's in the nature of things. I am being well looked after and I don't intend to let it interfere - as much as I can."

Bannister said he was diagnosed with the disease three years ago but has refrained from speaking publicly about it until now.

He added: "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?

"I know quite a lot about Parkinson's 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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