Friday, January 09, 2015

With Roger Bannister in London

I can't let this week close without reporting what a treat it was to present a paper in the Roger Bannister Audtorium at Imperial College London.  Here's the setting (above).

The seminar was organized by Susan Burnett at the NIHR Imperial Patient Safety Translational Research Centre.  My title was "Being willing to see things clearly: Looking at the essential role of transparency in clinical process improvement."

Many thanks to Susan!  It was a lovely evening with a great audience, but the highlight for me was to be able to stand there at gaze at this famous picture of Roger breaking the four-minute mile:

It's hard to remember today, but many people thought that the human body was incapable of this feat--that if you did it, you would keel over and die immediately afterward.  There is a spectacular book about the quest called The Perfect Mile, which I heartedly recommend.  Here's the summary from Amazon:

There was a time when running the mile in four minutes was believed to be beyond the limits of human foot speed, and in all of sport it was the elusive holy grail. In 1952, after suffering defeat at the Helsinki Olympics, three world-class runners each set out to break this barrier. Roger Bannister was a young English medical student who epitomized the ideal of the amateur — still driven not just by winning but by the nobility of the pursuit. John Landy was the privileged son of a genteel Australian family, who as a boy preferred butterfly collecting to running but who trained relentlessly in an almost spiritual attempt to shape his body to this singular task. Then there was Wes Santee, the swaggering American, a Kansas farm boy and natural athlete who believed he was just plain better than everybody else.

Spanning three continents and defying the odds, their collective quest captivated the world and stole headlines from the Korean War, the atomic race, and such legendary figures as Edmund Hillary, Willie Mays, Native Dancer, and Ben Hogan. In the tradition of Seabiscuit and Chariots of Fire, Neal Bascomb delivers a breathtaking story of unlikely heroes and leaves us with a lasting portrait of the twilight years of the golden age of sport.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I remember the Roger Bannister mile very well, the face off with John Landy afterwards, and the whole spectacle of crashing through the artificial barrier and its aftermath - what a psychological event! And the book is great. I envy your being there in the hall of the great one!