Side Lines

first_imgBannister, Chataway and Brasher; the four-minute-mile was something of a team achievement; without his pace makers the good doctor might never have breasted the tape in time. Had he been just a fraction slower a foreigner would have taken the plaudits that Bannister now laps up; there might have been no honours from a grateful Empire, and no celebration fifty years on at Oxford’s slightly less famous Iffley Road athletics track. Perhaps there would have been no subsequent British obsession with middle distance running – an obsession which spawned the great Cram, Coe and Ovett. Bannister, as he would certainly be the first to acknowledge, owes his pacemakers a great deal. In fact, so much individual success is actually the result of teamwork; the result of minions sacrificing themselves for the good of their superiors. Lance Armstrong, that modern day hero, is literally pulled up those steep Alpine climbs by his team mates most of whom will have to drop out because of the sheer exhaustion of breaking the still air in front of their leader; Paula Radcliffe’s amazing London marathon records have been aided by (male) pacemakers and Michael Schumacher’s victories have so often come at the expense of his team-mates. Of course these three are among the most talented sportsmen and women of this, or indeed any other, generation. It is this talent that assures them of their greatness. Even the greatest, though, have to rely on others from time to time. Individual records are hardly ever so simple a feat as we are afterwards led to believe by the historians eager to dramatise events and glorify names – if it wasn’t you crossing the line then you hardly count, it seems. At a time when everyone (us included) is quite rightly singing the praises of Bannister, Cherwell asks that everyone takes a minute or four to remember those without whom it quite literally wouldn’t have been possible – Chataway, Brasher and all your like: we salute you.ARCHIVE: 2nd week TT 2004last_img

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