On This Day

  • May 6 down the years

Bannister breaks the four minute barrier

Roger Bannister ran a mile in under four minutes on this day © Getty Images
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1954
Roger Bannister (born March 23 1929) ran the 'magic mile'. Running a marathon in under four minutes had never been done before and most people wondered if it ever could. The world record of 4 minutes 01.4 seconds, set by Gunder Hägg on December 31 1918, had been around for nearly nine years. Australia's John Landy made several unsuccessful attempts at breaking the record. "It's a brick wall", he proclaimed. He ran 3:58 later that year - but someone had to show him how. At the Iffley Road track in Oxford, Bannister used two fellow internationals as pacemakers. On a cold damp day, Chris Brasher ran the first 440 yards in 57.3 and reached the half-mile in 1 minute 58 with Bannister three yards back. Then Chris Chataway took over for the third lap, leaving Bannister to run the last in 59.4 to break four minutes. Out on his feet as he hit the tape, he fell into the arms of the crowd. When his time was read out, the announcer did not get further than 'three minutes...' before the spectators drowned him out. After Landy smashed the record later that year, he and Bannister ran their Race of the Century on August 7. On July 7 1999 Hicham El-Guerrouj of Morocco set the current world record of 3 minutes 43.13 seconds.

2002
Revenge. Peter Ebdon lost his only previous World final appearance to Stephen Hendry in 1996, going down 18-12. But fate handed Ebdon another shot at the title on exactly the same day six years later. Again he had to face Hendry, but this time he concentrated on the job magnificently. None of the theatrics of previous years - usually the signs of a beaten man. Here he led 10-6 after the first day, and although Hendry won six out of eight frames to lead 14-12, Ebdon had enough intestinal fortitude to make a break of 103 then level the match at 14-14 and 15-15. He made another century break to take the lead; Hendry made it 16-16; then Ebdon went back in front and should have won the match in the frame after that. Instead he collapsed. When Hendry's error left him with a 24-point lead and only three reds left, Ebdon made his worst miss of the tournament, a disaster on the black, and Hendry levelled at 17-all. Ebdon should have been destroyed by that miss, but he made a break of 59 in the decider, then Hendry went in off a red on the stroke of midnight. He conceded a few minutes later. It was the last time Hendry reached the final. Ebdon was back there on May 2 2006.

1991
Poor old Jimmy White. It was not just Stephen Hendry who beat him in World Snooker finals April 29 1990 etc. He lost to Steve Davis in 1984 (May 7) and again on this night, when he was firm favourite against John Parrott. Two years earlier (May 1), JP had suffered the biggest defeat in any final - but that was against Davis, and he was facing more brittle opposition now. Taking a leaf out of the Davis playbook, Parrott opened up a 7-0 lead. 'I can't play any better,' he said. 'After that it was a matter of nursing the lead.' He nurtured it so well that White never got any closer than four frames. In some ways it was his most dispiriting defeat in a final, although he lost the next three as well. Parrott led 15-9 on the way to winning 18-11.

1972
In their centenary season, Neath rugby club beat Llanelli to win the inaugural Welsh Cup. Llanelli had the better backs, but they saw little of the ball. Without their captain, international prop Barry Llewellyn, their problems began in the front row. With their scrum going backwards, any ball they won was plundered by the Neath back row. Llanelli were awarded a penalty try, but tiny fly-half Dai Parker scored a try for Neath, and John Poole kicked 11 points. In contrast, Andy Hill missed a crucial penalty when Llanelli were only 12-9 down. They lost 15-9 but went on to win the Cup for the next four years.

1979
In tennis, the Fed Cup final was played on clay in Madrid. Hot favourites USA won 3-0 as expected, but Australia made them fight for it. After Tracy Austin thrashed Kerry Reid 6-3 6-0, clay court queen Chris Evert had to dig deep against Dianne Fromholtz, coming from a set down to clinch the Cup 6-3 8-6. After that, the doubles were superfluous, but again the crowd got their money's worth. The old firm of Billie Jean King and Rosie Casals also came from a set down to win the last two sets 6-3 8-6. Billie Jean was 35 by then. She first played in the final in 1963 and finished on the winning side seven times. Ten years later Evert broke her record by winning the Cup for the eighth time, but King's winning span is the longest by any player, and her 12 wins in finals matches are still the record.

2001
Scotland's Colin MacRae won the Rally of Argentina. But England's Richard Burns finished second and ended the season as world champion. MacRae had won the title in 1995. He died in a helicopter accident in 2007. Burns died after a long battle with a brain tumour on the anniversary of his world title win on November 25 2005.

2000
Glenn Catley may be the only southpaw world boxing champion born in Chipping, Sodbury. On this night he won the WBC super-middleweight title by beating a German in Germany. His last-round stoppage of the unbeaten Markus Beyer in Frankfurt surprised many. Beyer had taken the title from Britain's Richie Woodhall. Catley lost it in his first defence.

1950
Warrington won the rugby league Challenge Cup by hammering Widnes 19-0 at Wembley. They scored three tries and Harold Palin kicked five goals. A storming performance by Warrington's Gerry Helme won him the Lance Todd Trophy as man of the match. He won it again on May 5 four years later.

1951
In rugby union, Mario Battaglini played for Italy for the first time since 1940. The gap of eleven years and one day is a record in the international career of any European player. A goal-kicking lock forward, today he scored a penalty and a try in a 12-0 win over Spain. The main ground in Rovigo, a rugby town, is the Stadio Mario Battaglini.

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