13 Olympians Featured in General Conference Talks

Roger Bannister

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In his October 1990 general conference talk, "A Pattern in All Things," Elder Marvin J. Ashton shared the incredible story of one-mile champion Roger Bannister, who just missed medaling in the Olympics but went on to break the four-minute mile record: 

"One of my favorite sports stories has to do with Roger Bannister, who many years ago participated in the Olympic Games as a champion in the one-mile race. He was supposed to win, but he wound up finishing in fourth place. He went home from the Olympics discouraged, disillusioned, and embarrassed.
"He had his mind set on giving up running. He was a medical student at the time, and his studies were so demanding. He decided that he’d better get on with life and devote all of his time in preparing for medicine and forget his hopes about running the world’s record in the four-minute mile. He went to his coach and told him, “Coach, I’m through. I’m going to devote all my time to studying.” His coach said, “Roger, I think you are the man who can break the four-minute mile. I wish you’d give it one last try before you quit.”
"Roger didn’t answer him. He went home knowing not what to say or to do. But before the night was over, he had convinced himself that he would develop an iron will before he quit running. He was going to break the four-minute mile.
"He knew what this meant. He would have to set a pattern and live by it. He realized he would have to study seven, eight, or even nine hours a day to get through medical school. He would have to train for at least four hours a day.
"Also involved was running continually to build up his body to the peak of perfection. He knew he would have to eat the best foods. He knew he would have to go to bed early every night and sleep nine or ten hours, to let his body recuperate and constantly build up for the great day. He determined within himself that he was going to follow the rigid pattern he and the coach knew was necessary for victory and achievement.
"On May 6, 1954, the four-minute-mile barrier was broken by Roger Bannister—a tall, stooped Englishman with a big-boned, angular face and a ruddy complexion—a man committed to a winning pattern which would bring him recognition worldwide.
"On a dreary, cold, wet, and windy day, he went to the Oxford University track to put his theories and skill to the acid test. His parents and a few hundred others were present. The rest is history. Running strictly according to his charts and pattern, he ran the miracle mile in 3:59.4. He became the first man in recorded history to speed across this distance in less than four minutes. He had proven that man could run faster than was thought possible. He paid the price and reaped the rewards of following the proper pattern. Today in England he is a doctor in his own right. At the time of his victory over the one-mile barrier, he became an international hero in all the record books. The four-minute-mile barrier is broken constantly these days, but Roger Bannister set the pattern many years ago and followed it with total commitment, self-discipline, and a will of iron."
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