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Australian John Landy, one of Bannister’s rivals also gunning to break the four-minute barrier, took more than a second off the Briton’s time in Turku, Finland, a few weeks later.

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It seems to me that 'gunning' here refers to the gunshot by the judge to start a running. But I might be wrong. Can anyone help with the meaning of 'gunning' here?

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There are some specialised senses of the participle "gunning".

Cambridge dictionary has

Be gunning for something

to make a great effort to get or win something.

It is marked as US informal.

There is a related sense, "Be gunning for someone", meaning "give enthusiastic support".

I can't find "gunning to do something" in the usual dictionaries, but it is clear that the idiomatic sense of "make a great effort" is intended.

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    +1 And "gunning for someone" can also mean looking for someone in order to hurt or kill them. Some quotes: "... received a phone call 'telling me to be careful if I went into town as some of the staff were gunning for me' *", "*Kyle wasn't exactly gunning for the marine, but he would never be one of Kenn's many supporters" (Kenn is the marine).
    – gotube
    May 7, 2023 at 15:32

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