The first African 4 minute miler. (Read 188 times)

    I am not sure if this is the best place for this topic, but we do not have a history section.....


    I was browsing the internet today indulging in a nostalgic look back at the town of Salisbury, Rhodesia when I came across an article on Terry Sullivan. Sullivan was the first miler from Africa and the 25th. man in the world to run a mile in under 4 minutes. He achieved this in Dublin, Ireland, in 3:59.8, coming second in the race to the great Herb Elliott. (I was only 9 years old at the time so probably took no interest, though my Dad did take me to see Gordon Pirie run an exhibition race in Salisbury around this time- Pirie came 3rd. in Dublin.)


    Sullivan was 25 years old and worked as a municipal clerk. Having no coach or trainer he was entirely self-coached, with his wife Pam spending endless hours at the track timing him and encouraging him. There was essentially no local competition at his level to help him sharpen racing tactics and he must have been surprised at the elbowing and shoving in the pack when he competed in the heats at the Rome Olympics and at other big races.

    The Dublin race had 16 runners, the quality of the field and tightness of the lead pack is shown in the fact the 12th. place finisher ran 4:03! Being a small man, Sullivan was forced wide and ran much of the race in Dublin in lane three, though he credited his anger at being punched with giving him the determination he needed to run at his best.


    Sullivan also ran a 4:03.5 in Salisbury, which is notable as the altitude is 5000 feet.

    He is now reported living in Johannesburg RSA.

    PBs since age 60:  5k- 24:36, 10k - 47:17. Half Marathon- 1:42:41.

                                        10 miles (unofficial) 1:16:44.