Long before Vancouver hosted the Olympics, the city hosted the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games. Empire Stadium, which was originally built for the Games, held 32,375 people and a decade later was Vancouver's venue for both Elvis Presley and The Beatles. It was also the site of one of the most famous races in history, during the 1954 British Empire Games, between Roger Bannister and John Landy. Both men had beaten the four-minute mark previously. Bannister was the first man to break the four-minute mile on May 6, 1954 at Oxford University, and a month and a half later on June 21, 1954, John Landy also broke the four-minute mile.
"While Lot's wife was turned into a pillar of salt for looking back, I am probably the only one ever turned into bronze for looking back."
My father had been a runner when he was a young man, and he talked about that famous race all his life. “If only Landy had not looked over his left shoulder...”
Harold Abrahams, who was one of the runners featured in the movie Chariots of Fire, was the timekeeper for Roger Bannister’s historic four-minute mile at Oxford University on May 6, 1954. Sir Roger Bannister went on to become a physician and neurologist, and John Landy went on to become the Governor of Victoria, in Australia. Empire Stadium has been refurbished, is now called Empire Field, and is home to the BC Lions Football Team. Phinnaeus and his dad went to a game there the other night. The Lions lost. Again. *sigh*
This old film of Roger Bannister beating the four-minute mile for the first time in history, at Oxford University, and set to the music of Chariots of Fire, is wonderful to watch. You can see the other runners tiring as Bannister runs past them effortlessly like an antelope.