Gunder Hagg, who set the mile world record in 1945 and held it until Roger Bannister broke the four-minute barrier, died at 85 after a long illness.
Hagg died Saturday at a nursing home in Sweden. He had spent his last years in a wheelchair, said sportswriter and friend Ulf R. Johansson on Sunday.
Hagg broke 15 world records in middle distance running and set no less than 10 world records over three months in 1942. That year, he also was the first to run 5,000 meters in under 14 minutes.
On July 17, 1945, Hagg set a world record for the mile of 4 minutes, 1.4 seconds, which remained until Bannister went 3:59.4 nine years later.
"Gunder the Wonder" toured the United States in 1943, when he won seven of eight races and was Associated Press' male athlete of the year. He was disqualified from amateur competition in 1946 for receiving money for running.