Nearly 64 years ago, Sir Roger Bannister put Britain on the map with his astounding, record-breaking mile run in less than four minutes.
To Cram and Coe, the man who now runs the sport as the IAAF president, Bannister's run of three minutes 59.4 seconds in Oxford was the nearly mythical tale which underpinned their own youthful athletics days.
Later in 1954, Bannister retired from athletics to focus on his study of medicine at the University of Oxford, eventually becoming a neurologist.
Bannister, who went on to pursue a long and distinguished medical career, had been slowed by Parkinson's disease in recent years. "He banked his treasure in the hearts of his friends".
"It's awesome that more people have climbed Mount Everest than have broken the 4-minute mile", Bannister said in an interview with The Associated Press in 2012. "Sir Roger Bannister showed that barriers are there to be broken and there are no limits".
Four-time Olympic gold medal victor Sir Mo Farah tweeted: "I'm so sorry to hear the sad news about Roger Bannister".
"He was running on cinder tracks, not tarmac tracks", he said.
Bannister's athletic achievement was made on May 6, 1954, in Oxford, England. "I'd like to see it as a metaphor not only for sport, but for life and seeking challenges".
At the 1952 Summer Olympics, he finished fourth in the 1500-meter mile, setting a British record.
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26/6/04 Roger Bannister holds the Olympic Torch aloft.
"That to me is a greater source of satisfaction than happening to move my body at a certain speed for a few moments in 1954", he said in a 2012 interview with the New York Times.
Bannister considered that victory even more satisfying than the first 4-minute mile because it came in a competitive race against his greatest rival.
He was also instrumental in initiating the first testing processes for anabolic steroids while serving as chairman of the British Sports Council in the 1970s.
"There is not a single athlete of my generation who was not inspired by Roger and his achievements both on and off the track", tweeted Coe, who won two Olympic gold medals in the 1980s.
Lord Patten of Barnes, Chancellor of Oxford University, said: "My wife and I were very sad to hear about Roger Bannister's death".
TeamGB: "We are incredibly saddened by the death of Sir Roger Bannister, aged 88".
Bannister married Moyra Jacobsson, an artist, in 1955.