Billy Mills
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BILLY MILLS Kansas Track and Field 1958 - 1961

Billy Mills was a two-time All-American in cross country for Kansas University (1958 and 1959), also the 1960 Big Eight Conference Cross Country Champion. Billy also ran on the legendary 1959 and 1960 KU NCAA Championship track teams. He was a two-time Big Eight champion in the two-mile run along with numerous relay events for the the Kansas track team. Billy will be remembered not only for his olympic win but for all his achievements while at Kansas University.

  Billy Mills was another of the great's of KU track and field.

Billy Mills was born on June 30, 1938 in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. He is an Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Indian and he was raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Billy's given Lakota name is Makata Taka Hela which means "love your country" or more traditionally translated, "respects the earth".

Billy grew up in poverty and was orphaned at the age of 12. He turned to sports as a positive focus in his life and took up running while attending the Haskell Institute, an Indian boarding school in Lawrence, Kansas. Billy discovered that he had a talent for distance running and he broke a number of high school track records. In the late 1950s he attended the University of Kansas on an athletic scholarship.

At the University of Kansas Billy continued to improve as a distance runner. 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, coached by Bill Easton, won the 1959 and 1960 outdoor national championships. Billy graduated with a B.S. in physical education.

After graduation Billy was commissioned as a lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. He focused on military life and did not train for a brief period, but soon he returned to running and posted times good enough to qualify for the 1964 Olympics. After training for 18 months Billy made the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team in the 10,000 meters and the marathon.

The 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games

No American had ever won the 10,000 meter race in an Olympics. Billy Mills' qualifying time was almost a full minute slower than the favorite's, Ron Clarke of Australia. The pre-race media coverage focused on Clarke and his expected duel with Mohammad Gammoudi of Tunisia. Billy went largely un-noticed. The field for 10,000 meter the final included many Olympic gold medalists and world record holders.

  Billy winning the 10,000 meter run, 1964 olympics.