Tempted to put this in GQ but I don’t think there’s a factual answer.
Here in the UK, Roger Bannister’s breaking of the 4 minute mile in 1954 is famous. It was a great achievement, but his time was beaten the following month.
Jim Hines was the first man to break the 10s barrier for 100m in 1968. His time wasn’t beaten for 15 years.
Ask the average man on the Clapham omnibus who beat the 4 minute mile barrier and the vast majority would know it was Roger. He practically a national hero here. I’m willing to bet though that hardly anyone has ever heard of Jim Hines, never mind know what he achieved.
Is this just a parochial British thing, or is Roger Bannister better known around the world?
FWIW, I’m a fairly sports savvy 35 year old American and I’ve heard Bannister’s name hundreds of times and am familiar with his achievement. I’ve heard Hines maybe a dozen or so times, and couldn’t have recalled without looking it up exactly what he did.
Same here, and I think I know why.
In 1968, the prestigious American sprint race distance was 100 yards, not meters. The 100m was some foreign shit we only had to watch at the Olympics. We cared who had the 100-*yard *record, and were impressed by anybody who broke 10 seconds in that.
*Miles *we understood, and still do, and Bannister’s record impressed everyone who cared at all.
But now, it’s all metric. The Olympics no longer have the mile, and even US events rarely include the 100-yard.
People had been routinely breaking 10 seconds in the 100-yard dash since 1890, so by the sixties running it in nine-something seconds was not remarkable; and
The men who held the 100-yd dash record during the sixties are also guys I never heard of: Mel Patton, Ken Irvine, Frank Budd, Bob Hayes, Charles Greene. (Maybe I should’ve heard of Hayes, who according to wikipedia went on to play in the NFL, but I haven’t.) I do know about John Carlos, who tied the record in 1969, but only because of his political involvement in the '68 Olympics. Sure seems like none of these guys are any more famous for their running today than Jim Hines.
So, it isn’t quite as simple as the use of metric measurements.
I’m an Aussie of the right vintage and know Bannister, Hines, Ken Irvine and Charlie Greene but Bannister is by far the best known. I have probably seen footage of him running more than 20 times. Hines I saw once.
Not really, since Beamon broke the record by over 20 inches, an amazing feat considering the record is slow to be broken. From 1901 to 1968, the record increased 0.74m; Beamon broke the existing record by 0.55m in one leap. That was mind boggling. Around the same time, Ralph Boston broke the world record six times, but his greatest increase over the previous level was only 0.08m and his total increase from first win to last was 0.22m.
The second thing that also overshadowed Hines at Mexico City was the Fosbury Flop, which revolutionized the high jump.
And the third was John Carlos.
I was watching the Olympics back then and those were what people talked about, not Hines. His feat was noted, but overshadowed by everything else.
I’d say they’re equally well known in the USA… but for very different reasons. Bannister is remembered for his record breaking mile run, while Hines is remembered for his political fist-raising gesture, rather than for what he accomplished on the track.
And the fourth was Taletlalco, Mexico’s own Tiananmen Square “incident”. (It was in the run-up to the Olympics, all part of cleaning up the undesirable elements, like protesting students.)
As for the OP – I knew Bannister’s name well, and what he’d done, since childhood; barely heard of Jim Hines, and could never tell you what he’d done. Now, if he had a more *a propos *name like “Usian Bolt”, well then…