AT precisely 3.21pm yesterday, the lights at the Arena Birmingham were dimmed and the venue fell silent. There followed a short tribute to Sir Roger Bannister, reflecting the news that the first man to break four minutes for the mile had passed away on Saturday at the age of 88.

The piece finished on a freeze frame of Bannister holding a torch, a picture which dated from May 2012 and his return to Iffley Road Stadium in Oxford to re-enact that run of three minutes 59.4 seconds. That world record for the mile lasted only 46 days but somehow the image seemed entirely appropriate, because Bannister didn’t only set in train the Great British mile-running tradition that day, he became the benchmark for making what seemed impossible possible, a baton which has long since passed to a younger generation.

The likes of Steve Cram and Seb Coe – one a BBC commentator and coach, the other the President of the IAAF – were among those speaking of the inspiration Bannister had provided yesterday.

“Sir Roger was a huge inspiration to anyone of our era,” said Cram. “I actually got to meet him in my teenage years - when I got to go to the Commonwealth Games when I was 17. To meet him was quite daunting actually because he represented this incredible achievement. He set off this tradition which hopefully me, Seb and Steve Ovett tried to carry on around GB middle distance running.”

“This is a day of intense sadness both for our nation and for all of us in athletics,” said Coe. “There is not a single athlete of my generation who was not inspired by Roger and his achievements both on and off the track.”

Now, of course, even the likes of Cram and Coe are a distant memory when it comes to a new generation of runner led by Scotland’s own Laura Muir. But whether it is Christian Coleman re-writing the record books in the 60m, or the awe-inspiring distance running of Genzebe Dibaba who hasn’t lost indoors since 2010, that imperative to run faster or jump higher still remains, even if the ongoing struggle against doping in the modern era emphasises that things that seem too good to be true often are.

Anyone who suspected Muir was anything other than the real deal as a medal winner at World and Olympic level have had to think again this week, as she collected a silver medal in the 1500m and a bronze in the 3000m. While she seems to have been around forever, she is till only 24, it seems likely that this weekend is only the springboard to further glory.

Perhaps Bannister, a neurologist in his other life - would appreciate the fact her next examination will come in the world of academia, and not athletics.

“I have looked at his career over the years and definitely taken inspiration," she said in Birmingham yesterday. "He’s been a great role model for me not only in athletics and medicine but the fact he combined the two as well.

“I remember watching a documentary about him and seeing the commitment he had to both, maybe even more so towards medicine. That was really inspirational, seeing that you don’t have to choose, you can be the best you can in the two fields.”

Another conclusion of Muir’s decision to complete her veterinary degree at the University of Glasgow and skip next month’s Commonwealth Games is just how focused she already is on the 2019 World Championships in Qatar and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. There is a tactical maturity about the way she approached the races which suggests her success story is set to run and run. “Before when I’ve made a really big move very quickly, I think you can get the lactic in the legs and [I wasn’t] finishing strongly,” Muir said. “So I knew I just had to build it up, build it up, react but don’t go overboard. React to the movements and just take my time, you know. I just try to not panic and stay calm, and it worked.

“Obviously I would love to be going to the Commonwealth Games,” he added, “but we have been planning this for three or four years. With people like Eilidh [Doyle] around, the Commonwealth Games team is really strong, they are going to do very well. My finals are in May so fingers crossed it all goes to plan and that will be me fully qualified.”

The immediate imperative to follow in Bannister’s footsteps fell to two Scottish participants in the 1500m final where Chris O’Hare was another man who woke up yesterday hoping to make the impossible possible. The religious 27-year-old from West Linton had quoted Luke 18:27 -“What is impossible with man is possible with God.” - on Twitter on the morning of his 1500m final. While an MRI scan on a recent foot problem had given him some encouragement, his lack of preparation took its toll as he finished outside four minutes for 1500m, 4.00.65 only good enough for eighth. ““It’s been a tough last 24 hours,” said O’Hare. “Yesterday lying under the MRI thinking ‘I hope it’s clear so I can run.... but what am I going to do if I can run?! You can’t come into a champs like this not fully prepared and I wasn’t. When the race kicked off I couldn’t get my knees up.”

Jake Wightman, whose dad, coach and stadium announcer, Geoff read out the tribute, wasn’t much happier with a sixth placed finish in 3,58.91 behind winner was Samuel Tefera of Ethiopia. “I’m a bit gutted as I was hoping to be in contention,” said Wightman. “I left myself too much to do and surged at the wrong point so it’s not a very pleasing day for me I’m going to get back into training and get some base work then I head out next week and start the build up to Commonwealths. It’s sad that he (Roger Bannister) has passed away on the same day as the race. He paved the way for all of us to follow and his legacy will live on.”