THE ‘AMATEUR spirit’ that took Sir Roger Bannister into the history books is continuing to spur on a new generation of athletes running in his footsteps at Iffley Road.

Oxford University Athletic Club president Miles Weatherseed, who runs the same distance as Sir Roger in the 1950s, said the entire club took inspiration from their former president, who died on Saturday.

He said: “Nearly anyone who has ever set foot on an athletics track is aware of his groundbreaking achievements back in 1954. What took place on a windy cinder track at If?ey Road rightly stunned the world and heralded the start of an era of new possibilities in middle distance running.

“As though the four minute mile was not enough, Sir Roger Bannister continued to give a huge amount to sport at Oxford long after he left through his support of the Vincent’s Club Awards for talented sportspeople at the university.”

Mr Weatherseed, who is studying Mathematics, said there was something special about not just what Sir Roger achieved but they way he did it. He said: “Whilst many athletics legends have followed in Sir Roger’s footsteps, running even faster than 3:59.4, there are barely any from whom a young athlete can draw so much inspiration.

“The spirit of amateurism and the task of balancing his studies with his running are a far cry from the hugely commercialised and professional set-up one sees in athletics these days.

“The likes of Sir Mo Farah or Dame Jessica Ennis, although still hugely inspiring, are far harder to relate to than a keen young Oxford medic, running for the pure enjoyment of it back in the 1950s.”

He added: “It is this aspect of Sir Roger Bannister’s achievements that makes him such a unique source of continued motivation for athletes around the world 60 years on.

“An immensely talented and modest gentleman, Sir Roger’s legacy of achieving the unachievable in the era of amateurism lives on and will continue to inspire many for decades to come.”

Richard Hart, chairman of Oxford City Athletic Club agreed saying: “As soon as the kids get to 12 or 13 they become curious about Sir Roger and what he achieved.

“It’s magical for them to run the same track as him and I think he has had a massive impact because of that amateur spirit he embodies.

“He’s really a lesson for them about what is achievable with hard work, even when training has to be fit in around other commitments.”

He added: “For many running will always remain an amateur sport and that is why Sir Roger and what he achieved alongside his studies is so special.”

During his tenure in charge of Oxford University Athletic Club from 1948-49 Sir Roger was responsible for improvements to the Iffley Road track and this commitment continued throughout his life. It was eventually renamed the Sir Roger Bannister Running Track following further refurbishment in 2007. A blue plaque was also installed in 2004 to mark the 50th anniversary of Sir Roger’s record-breaking milestone.