55 years ago, Billy Mills became a sports legend

USA's Billy Mills (722) winner of the 10,000-meter Olympic race at the National Stadium in Tokyo, Oct. 14, 1964. (AP Photo)

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN/KOTA TV) - It is fitting that today, Native American Day, is also a time to remember a race that catapulted an Oglala Lakota into sports history books.

It was 55 years ago today, Oct. 14, 1964, when Pine Ridge’s Billy Mills earned a gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics by winning the 10,000-meter race.

It was reportedly one of the biggest upsets in Olympic history. Mills was not expected to make a big splash in a race that no non-European had won before. And to reinforce how significant this win was, Mills' achievement has yet to be repeated.

But Mills, with a time of 28:24.4 set a new Olympic record as he bet the favorite, Australia’s Ron Clarke.

Mills is a founder of Running Strong for American Indian Youth. The nonprofit helps Native Americans meet “their needs and create “opportunities for self-sufficiency and self-esteem in American Indian youth.”

Mills was one of the first inductees into the National Native American Hall of Fame.

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