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Dream Big: Billy Mills Reflects On Olympic Gold Medal

Fifty years after his historic Olympic win, Billy Mills encourages youth to dream big and be brave.

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Fifty years after his historic Olympic win, Billy Mills encourages youth to dream big and be brave. 

On October 14, 1964, a young American distance runner named Billy Mills shocked the world with an improbable last-second sprint to claim gold in the 10,000-meter run at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. He was the first—and still the only—American to claim gold in the event.

Approaching the 50th anniversary of his historic victory, Mills, now 76, spoke with thousands of young people at the Don Barnett Arena in Rapid City, South Dakota on Friday, Oct. 10, encouraging the assembled crowd to dream big and be brave while working hard to achieve their individual and collective goals.  

Mills, a Native American who ran collegiately at the University of Kansas, was a huge underdog going into the 1964 Olympic 10,000m final, but he was able to kick past world-record holder Ron Clarke and Mohamed Gammoudi of Tunisia in the final straightaway to pull off the win. Mills told the assembled crowd in Rapid City that the positive virtues of bravery, fortitude, wisdom and generosity are all things grew up learning as a young boy on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and carried with him throughout his life, especially when battling tough times. He encouraged the audience to keep those same values in mind as they shaped the path of their own lives.

“It’s the daily decisions we make in life, not just the talent we possess that choreographs our destiny,” Mills said, according to the Rapid City Journal, which covered the event. 

For More: Rapid City Journal