The Miracle Mile
Stories of the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games
The 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Vancouver changed both the city and world sport forever. The Games will always be remembered for the "Miracle Mile," the much-anticipated showdown between the first two men to break the four-minute barrier, England's Roger Bannister and Australia's John Landy. But as the press focused the world's attention on Vancouver, and Bannister outpaced Landy in the stretch, fate found an even more dramatic story that seared itself into the memories of all who saw it. England's Jim Peters, the world-record holder in the marathon, entered Empire Stadium at the end of a brutal twenty-six-mile run, collapsing repeatedly before a medic stopped him two hundred yards from the finish line.
These two stories brought the Games to a stirring conclusion on its final day - Saturday, August 7, 1954 - but there were many other extraordinary moments throughout the events. A group of novice UBC rowers pulled off the biggest upset in Games history on the Fraser Valley's Vedder Canal. Australia's Marjorie Jackson-Nelson, the fastest woman in history, blasted down the track one final time to remain undefeated in international competition, an unprecedented accomplishment before and since. Emmanuel Ifeajuna, a little-known high jumper from Nigeria, surprised the world when he won Africa's first-ever international gold medal. He later masterminded a bloody coup that plunged his nation into devastating civil war. Every single day offered up unbelievable tales of glory and grief. As one 1954 billboard boldly proclaimed, the Games were "a week you'll remember a lifetime!"
- Winner, UFV Distinguished Alumni Award 2022
“Miracle Mile is a marvelous journey into yesterday, crammed with tales of the people and events who put Vancouver on a world sports stage back when fields were grass and stadiums were dome-less. This isn’t a book, it’s a treasure chest.”
—Jim Taylor, Sports Biographer