(1663 athletes as at April 13, 2021; includes relay legs)
WITHIN A YEAR of the death of the first sub-4:00 miler, Sir Roger Bannister, at the age of 88, the total number of athletes who have broken through the once historic barrier was already past 1550, and no country has kept greater faith with the legend of the sub-4 mile than the USA.
Even during the COVID-ravaged year of ’21 there were 51 men who broke 4:00 indoors, of which 32 were Americans. Outdoors in ’20 there were 33 who enterprisingly did so in Australia, Great Britain, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Switzerland and, of course, the USA.
The total of US sub-4 milers is now 594, far ahead of Great Britain’s 215 and Kenya’s 152, with no other country yet nearing 100. The year ’21 has very soon passed another landmark, as Nick Willis, of New Zealand, has broken 4:00 for a record 19th successive year. The previous best of 18 was held by his countryman John Walker, but Steve Scott of the USA, is still the most prolific sub-4 miler in history, with 137 such times to his credit.
Elsewhere, even the distant past has eventually yielded its secrets: a hitherto overlooked performance from as long ago as 1974 by a Bulgarian was not discovered until 36 years later! Bulgaria remains something of a mystery because another sub-four minute mile by a Bulgarian in ’92 (no venue or exact date) has only recently been caught up with!
There are now 19 sets of brothers, including 5 sets of twins, and 11 sets of fathers and sons who have broken 4:00. The most recent contributors to this family tradition are Jakob Ingebrigtsen, brother of Filip and Henrik Ingebrigtsen; John Coghlan, son of Eamonn Coghlan; Johnny Gregorek, son of John Gregorek; Liam Dee, son of Billy Dee: Jamie Williamson, son of Graham Williamson, and Cruz Culpepper, son of Alan Culpepper.
The Gregoreks, of the USA, both named John (though the son is known as Johnny) are the most successful father/son miling partnership, based on the average of their best times.The Ingbrigtsens are the first set of three brothers to break 4:00. No grandfathers and grandsons have done so as yet!