The South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame is dedicated to the preservation, documentation and display of South Dakota's sports history.

Billy Mills - Inducted 1969

Born June 30, 1938 at Pine Ridge. Haskell (Kan.) Indian School. 1962 Kansas grad. Before Oct. 14, 1964, Mills was unknown to all but a few track afficionados. But on that day the unheralded Mills achieved what some sports historians called 'the most sensational upset in Olympic history,' sprinting past Mohammed Gammoudi of Tunisia and Ron Clarke of Australia with 50 meters left to win the 10,000-meter race in Tokyo. Mills' time of 28 minutes, 24.4 seconds was an Olympic record and it was a personal best by 46 seconds. After his victory, Mills also competed in the 1964 Olympic marathon and placed 14th.

The first South Dakotan to win a gold medal in the Olympic Games, Mills was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1976 and the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1984. In 1965, Mills set a world record for six miles (27:11.6). He also held American records in the 3,000 (indoors and outdoors) and the 3-mile (indoors). Mills has traveled around the world as a motivational speaker. A movie of his life, 'Running Brave,' was made.

Mills was orphaned at age 13, attended high school at the Haskell Indian School in Lawrence, Kan., then ran track at the University of Kansas, helping the Jayhawks win two NCAA championships. He was a three-time cross country All-American and was the individual champ at the 1960 Big Eight Conference meet. He accepted a commission in the Marine Corps and was given an opportunity to resume his distance running. While at Camp Pendleton, Calif., he upped his running mileage to more than 100 miles a week and earned a spot on the 1964 Olympic team.

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