University of Oregon first ever sub four minute miler passed away on March 31

SADDENED to report the passing of the University of Oregon's very first ever sub 4:00 fact, the first man to ever break that mythical barrier on U.S. soil.

Australian native and Olympic 800 meter man, Jim Bailey, had until recently, resided in Bellingham, Washington. He was in failing health, and sadly, left us on March 31st at age 92.

Bailey had won the 1955 NCAA one mile title over his fellow Duck, Bill Dellinger, but was largely considered "an 880 man with a bum knee". On May 5, 1956 (just more than a year prior to Don Bowden becoming the first American sub four minute man) a special race was held in front of 40,000 spectators at the USC UCLA dual meet.

You see, it was an Olympic year (Melbourne Games) and this was to be a tune up race for the second ever sub 4 man and Aussie legend, John was being televised immediately after the Kentucky Derby so Americans could see Landy attempt a barrier breaking first on US soil.

Bailey, the former Sydney rugby player, was in the race as 'mere filler'...his best at the time was in the 4:05 vicinity...well, long story short on the last lap Bailey pulls alongside Landy, pats him on the back and said "let's go John"...Landy tried to make a move but couldn't respond, and Bailey eeks out the surprise win, 3:58.6 to 3:58.7... thereby running the very first EVER sub 4:00 in the land of opportunity.

posted Saturday April 4th
by Mike Fanelli