Who is better known - Roger Bannister or Jim Hines?

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?

Probably Bannister. Breaking the four-minute-mile was a big deal at the time and for decades after. Even in the US, Bannister is better known.

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.

Another American who knows about Bannister’s record but who has never heard of Hines.

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.


Me too.

I see by wikipediaing that Hines accomplished his time at Mexico City in 1968. Bob Beamon’s long jump record at that Olympics is well known in the US; interesting that Hines’s mark is not.

Interesting theory. The trouble with it is–

  1. 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

  2. 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.

[Info from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/100_yard_dash.]

Roger Bannister.

I think people were just very excited to see someone actually do that event. I don’t know why, but there wasn’t as much buildup for someone to run a 100 m in under 10 seconds.

Or was there? This is just what I assume.

I was confused by the thread title. I recognized both the names of Roger Bannister and Jim Hines. But I was wondering why you were comparing a runner with a fantasy author.

Joking aside, I had never heard of the runner Jim Hines before this thread.

Same here as well.

I’m in the U.S., and have known of Roger Bannister since I was a kid, but have never heard of the other guy.


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.

I recall a reading assignment in like 4th grade that featured Roger Bannister and breaking the four-minute mile.

I had never heard of Jim Hines before this thread.

Same here, Roger Bannister was a name I knew I recognized, and should be able to place, but just couldn’t quite until I opened the thread. But I didn’t recognize the name Jim Hines at all.

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.

Are you sure? The fist raising incident I and most people remember involved Tommie Smith and John Carlos, not Jim Hines.

American here, and I remember my father calling the first sub-4 minute mile the biggest sports headline of his lifetime. Hines, didn’t ring a bell for me.

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…