Monday Motivation: Underdog Billy Mills Wins Olympic Gold

Watch Olympic history unfold with this incredible and unexpected win.

At the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Native American Billy Mills became the first and only American to win Olympic gold in the 10,000-meter event. An underdog, no one knew of Mills or expected him to win. The race had been predicted to be a three-way battle between Murray Halbert, the 5,000-meter defending champion, defending 10,000-meter champion Pyotr Bolotnikov and at-the-time 10,000-meter world record-holder Ron Clarke.

Before Mills became a runner, he took up boxing and used running as a way to stay fit. A better runner than he was a boxer, Mills attended the University of Kansas on an athletic scholarship and ran for the school’s cross-country team. By the time of the Olympic Games, Mills had left Kansas to join the U.S. Marine Corps and it was during this time in which he qualified for the race that would make him an Olympic legend.

In the last and most defining lap of the race, Clarke charges ahead in the lead with Mohamed Gammoudi of Tunisia hot on his heels. However both frontrunners were overtaken by Mills as he sprints past to win by almost 3 meters, beating his own personal time by 47 seconds.

The lesson to be learned here: never underestimate an underdog.

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