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Roger Bannister reveals he has Parkinson’s disease

May 2, 2014, 9:15 AM EDT

Roger Bannister AP

Roger Bannister, the first man to run a sub-4-minute mile nearly 60 years ago, said he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease three years ago in a radio interview.

“I am having troubles with walking, so I do have difficulties,” Bannister, a former neurologist, said on BBC Radio Oxford. “Ironically, it’s a neurological disorder, Parkinson’s, but I’m being well looked after, and I don’t intend to let it interfere with my other activities as much as I can.”

Bannister, 85, ran a mile in 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds at Oxford on May 6, 1954, to become the first person to break the four-minute barrier. He also finished fourth in the 1500m at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics and won gold medals in the 1954 Commonwealth Games and European Championships.

“Life has its physical challenges, and I’ve not been free of other illness, but I take every day as it comes,” Bannister said. “The pleasure that I see is, much of it, directed towards what my grandchildren are achieving.

“As I once said when someone was commiserating with me, having this illness, I said, ‘But just consider the alternatives,'” Bannister said. “That’s the way I look at it.”

World’s oldest-ever Olympian passes away

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