Athletics News

Seventy years after Bannister, class of 2024 target sub-four in Oxford

Seventy years after Bannister, class of 2024 target sub-four in Oxford

Italian international Ossama Meslek leads the attack on the four-minute barrier at the Bannister Miles on Monday with world bests guaranteed in ‘steeplechase mile’ races

Fans of the mile will be able to feast upon more than four hours of races on Monday afternoon at Iffley Road in Oxford with runners in the final event at 6pm hoping to emulate Roger Bannister by breaking the four-minute barrier exactly 70 years after his famous feat.

Ossama Meslek, the British-based Italian international who runs for Leeds City AC, is among the favourites courtesy of his one mile best of 3:55.39, whereas the 27-year-old has also run 3:33.92 for 1500m.

Rivals include James Young, a 3:55.20 man from Morpeth Harriers, plus 3:57.00 runner Tom Dodd of Birchfield, the 3:58.89 athlete Tiarnan Crorken of Preston Harriers and 3:58.01 Irishman Shane Bracken.

With a large crowd expected, including miling greats such as Hicham El Guerrouj, Noureddine Morceli, Filbert Bayi, Eamonn Coghlan and Steve Cram, will they be able to crack four minutes? Much will depend on the weather, which is expected to be overcast with the chance of occasional showers and light winds, very much as it was 70 years earlier.

This month also marks the 70th anniversary of the first sub-five-minute mile by Diane Leather and the elite women’s race sets off just before 6pm in Oxford on Monday with ambitions to run considerably faster courtesy of Iffley Road’s synthetic surface, modern track spikes and the impressive evolution of women’s athletics in the last 30 years.

Beth Morley (James Rhodes)

Khai Mhlanga of Herts Phoenix has a 1500m best of 4:12.84 from last year, which translates to around 4:30 for the mile. She is up against Beth Morley, a 4:14.08 metric miler last year who more recently anchored the GB team to mixed relay gold at the World Cross Country Championships in Belgrade.

Also in the field is the experienced Latvian runner Liga Velvere, who has run a 4:54.0 mile on the roads in the past, plus Olivia Forrest, the 15-year-old multiple national title winner in recent months from Brentwood Beagles.

There are sure to be records – or ‘world bests’ to be more accurate – on the day due to the ‘steeplechase mile’ making its debut.

Will Battershill (Mark Shearman)

This unique event will see Will Battershill of Bristol & West as the man to beat in the men’s race with the women’s race seeing Alice Murray-Gourlay of Taunton, Lucy Jones of Herne Hill and Victoria Weir of Birchfield…

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