Athletics at the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games

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]

Athletics at the 5th British Empire and Commonwealth Games
Bannister and Landy.jpg
A sculpture of Bannister and Landy was placed outside of the Empire Stadium to commemorate the Miracle Mile.
Dates31 July – 7 August 1954
Host cityVancouver, British Columbia, CanadaCanada
VenueEmpire Stadium
Participation249 athletes from
23 nations

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 eight inches.[4] Ifeajuna was also the first black African to win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games.[5]

Medal summaryEdit


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
  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
4 × 110 yards relay
  Canada (CAN)
Bruce Springbett
Don Stonehouse
Harry Nelson
Don McFarlane
41.3 GR   Nigeria (NGR)
Muslim Arogundade
Abdul Karim Amu
Karim Olowu
Edward Ajado
41.3   Australia (AUS)
David Lean
Hector Hogan
Brian Oliver
Kevan Gosper
4 × 440 yards relay
  England (ENG)
Peter Higgins
Alan Dick
Peter Fryer
Derek Johnson
3:11.2 GR   Canada (CAN)
Laird Sloan
Douglas Clement
Joe Foreman
Terry Tobacco
3:11.6   Australia (AUS)
Brian Oliver
Don MacMillan
David Lean
Kevan Gosper
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


Event Gold Silver Bronze
100 yards
  Marjorie Jackson-Nelson (AUS) 10.7w   Winsome Cripps (AUS) 10.8w   Edna Maskell (NRH) 10.8w
220 yards
  Marjorie Jackson-Nelson (AUS) 24.0 GR   Winsome Cripps (AUS) 24.5   Shirley Hampton (ENG) 25.0
80 metres hurdles
(wind: +4.5 m/s)
  Edna Maskell (NRH) 10.9w   Gwen Hobbins (CAN) 11.2w   Jean Desforges (ENG) 11.2w
4 × 110 yards relay
  Australia (AUS)
Gwen Wallace
Winsome Cripps
Nancy Fogarty
Marjorie Jackson
46.8 GR   England (ENG)
Anne Pashley
Heather Armitage
Shirley Burgess
Shirley Hampton
46.9   Canada (CAN)
Margery Squires
Dorothy Kozak
Annabelle Murray
Geraldine Bemister
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 Dupree (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

Medal tableEdit

Roger Bannister's win in the mile was a highlight of his career and of Commonwealth Games history.
Triple sprint gold medallist Marjorie_Jackson-Nelson later became Governor of South Australia.

  *   Host nation (Canada)

1  England (ENG)99725
2  Australia (AUS)63413
3  New Zealand (NZL)4105
4  South Africa (SAF)2248
5  Canada (CAN)*17715
6  Nigeria (NGR)1326
7  Northern Rhodesia (NRH)1113
  Pakistan (PAK)1113
9  Northern Ireland (NIR)1102
10  Scotland (SCO)1012
11  Jamaica (JAM)1001
  Trinidad and Tobago (TRI)1001
13  Uganda (UGA)0101
14  Wales (WAL)0022
Totals (14 nations)29292987

Participating nationsEdit


  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 linksEdit