A history of British sport

On 6 May 1954, Roger Bannister broke the world mile record and the four-minute barrier at the Iffley Road Track in Oxford, completing the distance in 3 mins 59.4 seconds – a huge achievement for British sport. Here, Professor Tony Collins discusses ten locations linked to the development of sport in Britain over the past 200 years – from Much Wenlock to Stamford Bridge

English medical student Roger Bannister

This article was first published in the February 2012 issue of BBC History Magazine

The British, it’s often said, have a particular genius for inventing sports and games. Considering how many of these sports and games turn out to have evolved elsewhere in the world too, this may or may not be true. However, we can be certain about one thing: the British invented modern sports in all their money-drenched and over-hyped glory. To put that another way, you can trace a direct line from Britons setting down recognised rules for horse racing, boxing and cricket through to football’s World Cup, the Indian Premier League and the modern Olympic Games.

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