Skip to comments.79 Years Young and Looking Great: Happy Birthday, Billy Mills
Posted on 07/01/2017 2:28:01 PM PDT by righttackle44
In 1964, at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Billy Mills, an Oglala Lakota, prepared to run the 10,000 meter race in hopes of winning an Olympic gold medal. Today, over five decades later, he is celebrating his 79th birthday.
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A Marine AND an Olympic Gold medal winner!
William Mervin Mills was born in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, and was raised on the impoverished Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for Oglala Sioux people. His given native name, Makata Taka Hela, loosely means “love your country.” He was orphaned when he was twelve years old. Mills took up running while attending the Haskell Institute, which is now known as Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas. Mills was both a boxer and a runner in his youth, but he gave up boxing to focus on running.
He attended the University of Kansas on an athletic scholarship. He was named a NCAA All-America cross-country runner three times and in 1960 he won the individual title in the Big Eight cross-country championship. The University of Kansas track team won the 1959 and 1960 outdoor national championships while Mills was on the team.
After graduating with a degree in physical education, Mills entered the United States Marine Corps. He was a First Lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserve when he competed in the 1964 Olympics.
Happy Birthday and God bless you, Mr. Mills!
Great story! Happy Birthday Mr. Mills!
I never get tired of watching the finish of that race
I remember when he won.
It was probably the biggest surprise of the games.
The race’s announcer got fired for shouting hysterically during the entire homestretch, as I recall. It was indeed that exciting, but he was supposed to be a professional. Bud Collins? Doesn’t sound right—tennis announcer. Little help?
Oh wow, I remember this guy. Him and Jim Ryun who I practically worshipped when I was in High school. Man oh man, the hours I trained trying to get down to even break a 5 minute mile, and this guy Ryun was doing under 4, the first High schooler to do so. I believe he’s in politics now. These guys were my idols in the 1970s from Jr. High to High school. I believe Robby Bensen (remember him) even did a movie about Billy. Those were the days, I remember after ever race I use to dry heave, puke with no puke coming out, it was crazy, I use to run on borderline heart attack level. I couldn’t understand how these guys could run so much faster.
I didn’t see the actual race but recall his picture was on the front page of the newspaper the next day.
It was notorious at the time. I just watched it on YouTube and heard his meltdown again but found no mention of his name. Oh, well...
Oh, you meant Billy’s picture. Of course it was—huge upset.
Here are some good articles about Ryan: http://www.kansas.com/news/article1145253.html
He didn’t run the mile until his sophomore year in high school. Read somewhere that he never ran over 4:20 in competition. Apparently didn’t know how to run slow.
I remember he was at the Florida Relays around 1971. I was competing in the hurdles.
He was a bit standoffish, probably didn’t want to be bothered with people constantly greeting him. I don’t blame him a bit.
Billy Mills is the spokesman for the Crazy Horse mountain sculpture in South Dakota (about 10 miles south of Mount Rushmore). If you ever get out to western South Dakota, be sure to make it to Crazy Horse (it is still being sculpted).
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