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1954 Commonwealth Games

(British Empire and Commonwealth Games)

Opening Ceremony ... 30 July 1954 Host City ... Vancouver, Canada Closing Ceremony ... 7 August 1954
Participants ... 662 athletes, 24 Commonwealth Nations

For many the high point of the 1954 Games was the battle of the four-minute mile. Two months earlier (6 May) Roger Bannister became the first man to break that seemingly impenetrable barrier running the mile in 3:59:4 at a competition in Oxford, England.

Once broken, a new mile record replaced it quickly. A week before the 1954 Games Melbourne University student John Landy broke it with his mile run in Finland of 3:58:0.

Bannister and Landy had never raced against each other so their race at the 1954 Games was advertised as the Mile of the Century. To say there was a lot of interest in the race is an understatement. Journalists came from all over the world to cover it. The rest of the Games had to take

1954 Commonwealth Games

The 1954 Commonwealth Games logo is a shield encasing a red maple leaf on a white background.

second place in coverage. The Bannister-Landy race was the very first international sports coverage televised live to North America. For England and European fans, kinescopes of the race were flown by RAF jet bombers back to England so the race could be seen just hours later.

The world was watching. Landy (Australia) ran ahead of Bannister (England) for most of the race setting a fast pace from the beginning. As Landy neared the end he looked over his left shoulder to see where Bannister was. At that exact moment Bannister passed Landy on his right and when Landy looked ahead again he saw Bannister pulling away in front. From that point on it was Bannister's race. The finish saw Bannister taking gold at 3:58.8 and Landy getting silver at 3:59.6. Of the seven racers, only those two ran under 4 minutes. The race was so memorable that its known today as the Miracle Mile.

Although Miracle Mile was the centre of attention at the Games, the marathon that year was also memorable. Just minutes after the Miracle Mile ended marathon runner Jim Peters (England) entered the stadium to finish the last 385 yards of his race. But Peters was no longer running. In fact he could hardly walk. So fast was his pace in the marathon (20 minutes ahead of the next runner) that he didn't have the strength to finish.

After twenty-six gruelling miles, Peters stumbled, fell, picked himself up, over and over and over, reeling all over the track in his futile attempt to finish. The crowd of 70,000 in the stadium was sickened by the sight. Some even threw up in the stands while others turned away, tears in their eyes. No one knew what to do, and no one stepped in to stop him even though shouts from the stands called for it.

Peters, not able to think clearly, saw what he thought was the finish line and gave one last valiant attempt to finish and with the last of his strength slowly jogged to it. Unfortunately it was the finish line for the Miracle Mile. The marathon finish was on the other side of the track. Peters collapsed after crossing the wrong finish line and was taken to the hospital. Officially he's listed as disqualified because his English team trainer stepped in to help him when he collapsed. Jim Peters will be remembered for his athletic gallantry to keep trying when all was lost.

Top 18 Countries By Total Medals

Host country listed in bold, Australia in green.

Country Gold Medals Silver Medals Bronze Medals Total
10 Pakistan 1 3 2 6
11 Trinidad 2 2 0 4
12 Northern Ireland 2 1 0 3
13 Southern Rhodesia 2 1 0 3
14 Jamaica 1 0 0 1
15 Barbados 0 1 0 1
16 Hong Kong 0 1 0 1
17 Uganda 0 1 0 1
18 British Guiana 0 0 1 1
Country Gold Medals Silver Medals Bronze Medals Total
1 England 23 24 20 67
2 Australia 20 11 17 48
3 Canada 9 20 14 43
4 South Africa 16 6 13 35
5 New Zealand 7 7 5 19
6 Scotland 6 2 5 13
7 Northern Rhodesia 1 5 4 10
8 Nigeria 1 3 3 7
9 Wales 1 1 5 7

Participating Teams

Countries returning to the games were: Australia, Bermuda, British Guiana, Canada, England, Fiji, Hong Kong, India, Jamaica, New Zealand, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Scotland, South Africa, Trinidad & Tobago, Wales. Competing for the first time were: Bahamas, Barbados, Gold Coast, Kenya, Northern Rhodesia, Pakistan, Southern Rhodesia, Uganda.


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