Bannister, first to break 4-minute mile barrier, dies at age 88

3/4/2018 3:59:18 PM EST

Roger Bannister, the first runner to run a mile under four minutes, has died. He was 88.

A family statement said Bannister died on Saturday in Oxford, England, where the legendary runner broke the barrier on a windy afternoon in 1954.

"Sir Roger Bannister, died peacefully in Oxford on 3 March, aged 88, surrounded by his family who were as loved by him, as he was loved by them," the statement read.

"He banked his treasure in the hearts of his friends."

Bannister's time of 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds was set at Oxford University's Iffley Road track on May 6, 1954, making headlines around the world and assuring him a place in athletics history at the age of 25.

"It became a symbol of attempting a challenge in the physical world of something hitherto thought impossible," Bannister told The Associated Press as he approached the 50th anniversary of the feat. "I'd like to see it as a metaphor not only for sport, but for life and seeking challenges."

Bannister went on to become a leading neurologist and was knighted in 1975. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2011.

"Sir Roger Bannister was a great British sporting icon whose achievements were an inspiration to us all. He will be greatly missed," British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Twitter.

--Field Level Media