Athletics at the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games

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A sculpture of Bannister and Landy was placed outside of the Empire Stadium to commemorate the Miracle Mile.

At the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, the athletics events were held at Empire Stadium in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in July and August 1954. A total of 29 athletics events were contested at the Games, 20 by men and 9 by women. A total of twenty-four Games records were set or improved over the competition, leaving just five previous best marks untouched. The 1954 edition saw the introduction of the shot put and discus throw for women, as well as the first 4×110 yards relay for women (which replaced a medley relay).[1]

The men's mile run competition – dubbed The Miracle Mile – represented a landmark in the history of the Four-minute mile. Roger Bannister had been the first to have broken the barrier earlier that year, but Landy followed soon after with sub-4 minute (and world record time) of his own. The games offered the first time that two sub-4 minute runners had duelled against each other. Landy led until the final curve, at which point he turned to gauge Bannister's position. Bannister took the opportunity to overtake him on his blind side and he edged out a victory over Landy with a time of 3:58.8 minutes. Landy also ran under four minutes, representing the first time two men had done so in the same race.[2] A sculpture of the race-deciding moment was later placed outside the stadium in memory of the duel.

Jim Peters, then the world record holder in the marathon, entered the stadium some seventeen minutes ahead of his nearest rival in the Games marathon. He collapsed in his final lap of the stadium, however, and did not finish the race (which was won by Joe McGhee).[3]

A new Commonwealth record for the high jump was established at the games by Emmanuel Ifeajuna of Nigeria, who became the first Commonwealth athlete to clear six feet and nine inches.[4] Ifeajuna was also the first black African to win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games.[5]

Medal summary[edit]


Event Gold Silver Bronze
100 yards  Mike Agostini (TRI) 9.6 GR  Don McFarlane (CAN) 9.7  Hector Hogan (AUS) 9.7
220 yards  Don Jowett (NZL) 21.5  Brian Shenton (ENG) 21.5  Ken Jones (WAL) 21.9
440 yards  Kevan Gosper (AUS) 47.2 GR  Don Jowett (NZL) 47.4  Terry Tobacco (CAN) 47.8
880 yards  Derek Johnson (ENG) 1:50.7 GR  Brian Hewson (ENG) 1:51.2  Ian Boyd (ENG) 1:51.9
1 mile  Roger Bannister (ENG) 3:58.8 GR  John Landy (AUS) 3:59.6  Rich Ferguson (CAN) 4:04.6
3 miles  Chris Chataway (ENG) 13:35.2 GR  Fred Green (ENG) 13:37.2  Frank Sando (ENG) 13:37.4
6 miles  Peter Driver (ENG) 29:09.4 GR  Frank Sando (ENG) 29:10.0  Jim Peters (ENG) 29:20.0
Marathon  Joe McGhee (SCO) 2:39:36  Jack Mekler (SAF) 2:40:57  Johannes Barnard (SAF) 2:51:50
120 yards hurdles  Keith Gardner (JAM) 14.2 GR  Chris Higham (ENG) 14.9  Norman Williams (CAN) 14.9
440 yards hurdles  David Lean (AUS) 52.4 GR  Harry Kane (ENG) 53.3  Bob Shaw (WAL) 53.3
High jump  Emmanuel Ifeajuna (NGR) 2.03 m GR  Patrick Etolu (UGA) 1.99 m NR  Nafiu Osagie (NGR) 1.99 m
Pole vault  Geoff Elliott (ENG) 4.26 m GR  Ron Miller (CAN) 4.20 m  Andries Burger (SAF) 4.13 m
Long jump  Ken Wilmshurst (ENG) 7.54 m GR  Karim Olowu (NGR) 7.39 m  Sylvanus Williams (NGR) 7.22 m
Triple jump  Ken Wilmshurst (ENG) 15.28 m  Peter Esiri (NGR) 15.25 m  Brian Oliver (AUS) 15.14 m
Shot put  John Savidge (ENG) 16.77 m GR  John Pavelich (CAN) 14.95 m  Stephanus du Plessis (SAF) 14.93 m
Discus throw  Stephanus du Plessis (SAF) 51.70 m GR  Roy Pella (CAN) 49.53 m  Mark Pharaoh (ENG) 47.84 m
Hammer throw  Muhammad Iqbal (PAK) 55.37 m GR  Jakobus Dreyer (SAF) 54.75 m  Ewan Douglas (SCO) 52.81 m
Javelin throw  James Achurch (AUS) 68.52 m GR  Muhammad Nawaz (PAK) 68.09 m  Jalal Khan (PAK) 67.50 m
4×110 yards relay  Canada (CAN)
Don Stonehouse
Bruce Springbett
Harry Nelson
Don McFarlane
41.3 GR  Nigeria (NGR)
Abdul Karim Amu
Edward Ajado
Karim Olowu
Muslim Arogundade
41.3  Australia (AUS)
Brian Oliver
David Lean
Hector Hogan
Kevan Gosper
4×440 yards relay  England (ENG)
Alan Dick
Derek Johnson
Peter Higgins
Peter Fryer
3:11.2 GR  Canada (CAN)
Terry Tobacco
Douglas Clement
Joe Foreman
Laird Sloan
3:11.6  Australia (AUS)
Brian Oliver
David Lean
Don MacMillan
Kevan Gosper


Event Gold Silver Bronze
100 yards  Marjorie Nelson (AUS) 10.7w  Winsome Cripps (AUS) 10.8w  Edna Maskell (NRH) 10.8w
220 yards  Marjorie Nelson (AUS) 24.0 GR  Winsome Cripps (AUS) 24.5  Shirley Hampton (ENG) 25.0
80 metres hurdles  Edna Maskell (NRH) 10.9w  Gwen Hobbins (CAN) 11.2w  Jean Desforges (ENG) 11.2w
High jump  Thelma Hopkins (NIR) 1.67 m GR  Dorothy Tyler (ENG) 1.60 m  Alice Whitty (CAN) 1.60 m
Long jump  Yvette Williams (NZL) 6.08 m GR  Thelma Hopkins (NIR) 5.84 m  Jean Desforges (ENG) 5.84 m
Shot put  Yvette Williams (NZL) 13.96 m GR  Jackie MacDonald (CAN) 12.98 m  Magdalena Swanepoel (SAF) 12.81 m
Discus throw  Yvette Williams (NZL) 45.01 m GR  Suzanne Allday (ENG) 40.02 m  Marie Depree (CAN) 38.66 m
Javelin throw  Magdalena Swanepoel (SAF) 43.83 m GR  Pearl Fisher (NRH) 41.97 m  Shirley Couzens (CAN) 38.98 m
4×110 yards relay  Australia (AUS)
Gwen Wallace
Marjorie Nelson
Nancy Fogarty
Winsome Cripps
46.8 GR  England (ENG)
Anne Pashley
Heather Young
Shirley Burgess
Shirley Hampton
46.9  Canada (CAN)
Annabelle Murray
Dorothy Kozak
Geraldine Bemister
Margery Squires

Medal table[edit]

Roger Bannister's win in the mile was a highlight of his career and of Commonwealth Games history.
Triple sprint gold medallist Marjorie Nelson later became Governor of South Australia.
  The host country is highlighted in lavender blue
Rank Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1  England 9 9 7 25
2  Australia 6 3 4 13
3  New Zealand 4 1 0 5
4  South Africa 2 2 4 8
5  Canada 1 7 7 15
6  Nigeria 1 3 2 6
7=  Pakistan 1 1 1 3
7=  Northern Rhodesia 1 1 1 3
9  Northern Ireland 1 1 0 2
10  Scotland 1 0 1 2
11=  Jamaica 1 0 0 1
11=  Trinidad and Tobago 1 0 0 1
13  Uganda 0 1 0 1
14  Wales 0 0 2 2
Total 29 29 29 87


  1. ^ Commonwealth Games Medallists - Women. GBR Athletics. Retrieved on 2010-08-30.
  2. ^ Bryant, John (2005). 3:59.4: The Quest to Break the Four Minute Mile. Arrow Books Ltd. ISBN 978-0-09-946908-7.
  3. ^ Great Sporting Moments: Athletics. The Independent. Retrieved on 2010-08-30.
  4. ^ John de St. Jorre, The Nigerian Civil War (Hodder and Stoughton Publishing: London, 1972) p. 31.
  5. ^ Oliver, Brian (13 July 2014). "Emmanuel Ifeajuna: Commonwealth Games gold to facing a firing squad". Retrieved 13 July 2014. 

External links[edit]