Last week’s short news item could serve as inspiration for future Bowling Green first-time homebuyers—especially for those who haven’t yet considered the possibility of owning their own Bowling Green home.
The item in question was news of the passing of the English athlete, Sir Roger Bannister. If that name isn’t familiar, it’s because Bannister’s story has long since faded from the headlines. But Bannister was a hero who changed the path of more than just sports history.
His triumph took place in 1954. A mid-distance runner, he had considered giving up the sport after his failure to win a medal in the 1952 Olympics. That race had been 1500 meters (about 90% of a mile). The more he thought about it, the more he determined to do more than make up for it. He decided to do the impossible.
It was common knowledge that there were limits to what the human body could accomplish physically. One of those barriers was that the time it took to cover a mile. The ancient Greek Olympians had tried to achieve preeminence—perfection (“paideia”)—by running a mile in less than 4 minutes. They (and everyone else) failed. After 3,000 years, it had become an established fact that it was a physical impossibility. Runners might come close, but in all of recorded history, that limit had not been seriously challenged.
As you have guessed by now, Bannister assumed the opposite. After years of training in half-hour increments (he was a full-time medical school student), he set out to beat the barrier at a college track meet. After he broke the tape at the finish line, the stadium announcer built excitement by a long-winded prelude, then announced the result:“…a new world record—the time was three…”
The roar of the crowd drowned out the rest of the announcement.
The moral of Bannister’s story isn’t that hard work and determination pays off. The true moral was driven home 46 days later when John Landy broke Bannister’s record by running a 3-minute mile even faster. What had been holding him back until then? When you realize that by 2001, high school runners were turning in 3-minute miles, it’s hard to deny that some—perhaps most—barriers exist only in our minds.
Fast forward to just last month, when we Bowling Green viewers watched those Olympic skiers and snowboarders regularly demonstrating the utterly impossible: high-speed aerial flips, twists and turns performed backward. That’s yet more proof of the Bannister legacy—and it can be priceless for anyone who has automatically assumed that owning a home of their own is impossible.