Billy MILLS

United States of America USA

Athletics

  • Olympic Medals
    1 G
  • Games participations
    1
  • First Olympic Games
    Tokyo 1964
  • Year of Birth
    1938
Olympic Results

Biography

Billy MILLS

Billy Mills remains the USA’s one and only gold medallist in the men’s 10,000m, a feat he achieved at Tokyo 1964.

Run like the wind

The story of Billy Mills, the only American to this day to have won 10,000m Olympic gold, is so remarkable that it is the subject of a 1983 film entitled Running Brave. A member of the Ogala Sioux tribe, Mills endured a harsh upbringing in the Pine Ridge Native American Reservation in South Dakota. An orphan at the age of 12, he nurtured his talent for running and boxing in his formative years and gained a place at the University of Kansas, where he won a number of cross-country races. Graduating with a degree in physical education, he then joined the US Marines as a lieutenant.

Soaring high

It was while serving in the Marines that he qualified for the 10,000m and the marathon at Tokyo 1964. The favourite for the 10,000m was Australia’s world record holder Ron Clarke, while Mills, who was 26 at the time, entered the race burdened by medical concerns, having been diagnosed with hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar). As he later explained, he when the race got under way he was focused more on just staying in contention than actually attempting to win it. “I just tried to stay with the leaders, lap after lap after lap,” he recalled.

But then came the moment that inspired the American to glory. Spotting the eagle embroidered on the shirt of German runner Siegfried Herrmann, he cast his mind back to his childhood and kicked for home. “The wings of an eagle!” he says. “Back to my dad when I’m small: ‘Son, you do these

Olympic Results

More results
Olympic Results
Results Event Sport

Tokyo 1964

G
10,000 metres
10,000 metres Athletics
#14
Marathon
Marathon Athletics