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Hungarian runner and coach Laszlo Tabori dies aged 86

Third man to break the four-minute barrier in the mile

Gulf News

Los Angeles: Laszlo Tabori, who in 1955 became the third man to break the four-minute barrier in the mile and later coached distance runners at the University of Southern California, died on Wednesday. He was 86.

The school said the Hungarian-born Tabori died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles. No cause was given.

Tabori joined Roger Bannister and John Landy as the only men to break the four-minute barrier. He did so with a time of 3 minutes, 59 seconds, on May 28, 1955. That same year, Tabori held the 1,500-metre world record with a time of 3:40.8. He was also a member of the world record-setting team in the 4x1,500m relay.

Tabori finished fourth in the 1,500 and sixth in the 5,000 at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.

After the Olympics, he and his coach Mihaly Igloi defected to the US and eventually settled in Los Angeles. Tabori stayed in shape for many years and would have been a medal contender at the 1960 Rome Olympics, but he could no longer run for Hungary and wasn’t yet a US citizen. He retired from running two years later.

Tabori returned to the sport as a coach in 1967, employing methods he learned from Igloi. Tabori was a proponent of interval training and was the longtime coach of the San Fernando Valley Track Club.

Among his star pupils were Boston Marathon winner Jacqueline Hansen and Miki Gorman, winner of the New York City and Boston marathons.

Tabori worked with USC’s men’s distance runners and the school’s running club team, notably coaching Duane Solomon to a berth in the 2012 London Olympics.

Born July 6, 1931, in Kosice, Hungary, Tabori was inducted into the Hungarian Hall of Fame in Budapest in 1995 for his accomplishments as an athlete and Olympian. In 2002, Tabori received the Fair Play Award from the International Olympic Committee for lifetime achievement and outstanding contribution to the sport.

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