Billy Mills

Billy Mills Is Still Golden, 50 Years Later

Rodney Harwood
4/24/14

“I came off the final curve and looked at a runner I thought was from Germany, as it turns out, was not. I thought I saw an eagle on his singlet,” Mills said. “To me it was like wings of an eagle and I heard my dad’s voice and thought I can win! I can win! I can win!”

Nadia Gammoudi said, “With 30 meters to go, my daddy and Ron Clarke went by some stragglers. Now lane 1 was open. My daddy’s in lane 2. Clarke’s in lane 3. My daddy glances back, no Billy. He looked to lane 3 and Clarke is fading back. My daddy is 30 meters (from a gold medal).”

The Lakota, who was pushed into lane 4, ran the entire back straight wavering from lane 2 to lane 3, overcame the effects of low blood sugar, still found a way to chase down the world record holder (Clarke) and his good friend Mohamed Gammoudi. Mills found another gear, and flew past Gammoudi and Clarke to victory. Mills' time was 28 minutes, 24.4 seconds. Gammoudi was second in 28:24.8, and Clarke was third in 28:25.8. Neither Gammoudi or Mills had ever run under 29 minutes. All three broke the Olympic record.

“You have been in my life since I’ve been a little girl,” Nadia told Mills as they sat in the Olympic stadium in London.

“I told her ‘Your daddy’s been in our daughters’ lives since they were little girls’,” Mills explained.

As Mohamed looked on, with his daughter expressing his thoughts to one of his closest friends, all was good. “My daddy said you are an American Indian and you were like an arrow being shot out of a bow,” she told Mills. “The way you won, it was your time. My daddy knew his moments would come.”

As with everything in life, Mills has earned his respect. He walks with dignity and humility and his heart, like his medal, is still golden 50 years later.

 

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