Bannister and Landy clash in the "Miracle Mile" race
The British Empire and Commonwealth Games 1954 returned to the country of their birth 24 years after the Hamilton 1930 Games only to be hijacked by an Englishman and an Australian.
Englishman Roger Banister was a hero throughout the athletics world as he was the first man to run the magical sub-four minute mile on May 6, 1954, at Iffley Road Track in Oxford. In a feat long considered impossible, Bannister’s time was an astonishing 3min 59.4sec.
However, just 46 days later on June 21 in Finland, Bannister's record was broken by his great rival John Landy of Australia, with a time of 3:57.9.
Coming into the Vancouver 1954 Games, Banister and Landy were the only two men in the world to have broken the 4-minute barrier, with Landy still holding the world record.
It was on August 7 that the two greats met for the first time in perhaps the most eagerly awaited clash in Commonwealth Games history.
Landy led for most of the race, and managed to build up a small lead ahead of Banister everything changed on the last lap.
Banister closed in on Landy and on the final bend, Bannister stormed past the Australian to win in a time of 3:58.8. It was the first time two runners broke four minutes in the same race and became known as the “Miracle Mile”.
Bannister and Landy both pointed out that the crucial moment of the race was that at the moment when Bannister decided to try to pass Landy on the final bend.
Landy looked over his left shoulder to gauge Bannister's position and Bannister burst past him on the right and would never relinquishing his lead.
On the same afternoon, Englishman Jim Peters, the world record holder for the marathon, entered the stadium 17 minutes ahead of his nearest rival.
However, due to exhaustion and dehydration, Peters collapsed on his final lap and never managed to complete the race.
The 1954 Games however, were an undoubted success and Vancouver set new standards in organisation and presentation for all multi-sport Games of the time.
The athletes' oath was taken by the captain of the Canadian team Bill Parnell, which, for the first time, would reflect the involvement of Commonwealth nations outside of the British Empire.
For the first time since the London 1930 Games, England topped the medal table ahead of Australia, rubbing more salt in the wounds of John Landy following his “Miracle Mile” heart break.
Date Games held: July 30-August 7
Number of nations represented: 24
Number of competitors: 662
Number of medals awarded: 270