mills billy
Billy Mills
  • 3-time state high school cross country champion at Haskell
  • First American to win the Olympic Gold Medal in the 10,000 meter run in 1964
  • 3-time NCAA cross country All-American at KU
Mills, Billy
Inducted 1973

Born: June 30, 1938 – Pine Ridge Reservation, SD

Graduated: Haskell Prep Institute (Lawrence, KS), 1957; University of Kansas, 1962


William Mervin “Billy” Mills staged one of the greatest upsets in Olympic history by winning the 10,000-meter run in the 1964 Games in Tokyo in an Olympic-record time of 28:24.4. Mills defeated world record holder Ton Clarke of Australia in the race and cut nearly 45 seconds off his personal-best time in coming from behind to win the race. He became the first American ever to win the event and was named the Outstanding Sportsman of the United States team.

High School Highlights

Mills attended high school at Haskell Institute in Lawrence, Kansas, where he won the Kansas Relays high school mile three times and set indoor and outdoor records in 1957 in the mile run. He was also a three-time state high school cross country champion at Haskell.

College & Professional Career

Part Sioux Indian, Mills won the 1960 Big Eight cross country championship, the two-mile run at the 1961 Big Eight Outdoor and Indoor meets and was three-time NCAA cross country All-American at the University of Kansas. He set the world record in the six-mile run in 1965 and held seven different American records. Mills retired from competition in 1968.


He helped form the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame in Lawrence and was inducted in 1978. He was inducted into National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1976 and University of Kansas Hall of Fame in 1984.