Roger Bannister – The Miracle Mile: Roger Bannister, from England, was the first in the world to break the four-minute mile pace (in 1954). However, shortly after, leading up to the Commonwealth Games in that same year, Australia’s John Landy set a world record pace for the mile at 3:57.9. As a result, the two had set up an intense rivalry for the Commonwealth Games to see who could beat the other.
During the race, Landy was ahead until the last 100 metres, where he looked to see how far he was from Bannister. Bannister, however, had caught up and as soon as Landy glanced over his left shoulder, Bannister passed him and went on to win the race with a time of 3:58.8, while Landy was 0.8 seconds behind him.
Filbert Bayi – One of the Greatest Ever Races: Bayi, from Tanzania, was largely unknown at the time of the 1974 Commonwealth Games. However, in the 1500m, he would run a race in what Bannister called the, “greatest race” he had ever seen. There were many strong runners in that race, including three Olympic medalists from Munich 1972 as well as John Walker; an up-and-coming New Zealand star.
Bayi set off at a fast pace to get ahead of everyone else so that he wouldn’t get knocked. He had a solid lead throughout the race however Walker was constantly trailing him. At one point, Walker got as close as three metres behind Bayi. However, when Bayi realised this, he accelerated and broke the world record with an impressive time of 3:32.2.
Chantal Petitclerc – First Commonwealth Gold in Para-sport: Although the first Commonwealth Paraplegic Games were held in 1962, the medals were not officially added to the medal count of a country, and the CPG was stopped in 1974 due to travel logistics and costs, meaning only a few countries were able to compete. However, at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, athletes with a disability were included as full members of their national teams. This meant that their results were included in the medal count. In the wheelchair 800 metres, Petitclerc, who lost both of her legs when she was 13, raced to the finish line to win a gold medal, the first of its kind. Reminiscing on the moment, she said, “That was one of the best medals of my life.”
Statue: Jack Harman Photo: Paul Joseph from vancouver, bc, canada, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons