Sept. 24, 2012
For immediate release
Billy Mills delivered one of the greatest upsets in Olympic history. So it’s no surprise the Sacramento Running Association has selected the Fair Oaks resident as the first inductee in its Hall of Fame.
Mills stunned the track world by surging past favorite Ron Clarke of Australia and Mohammed Gammoudi of Tunisia to win the gold medal in the 10,000 meters at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
His then Olympic record time of 28 minutes, 24.4 seconds was nearly 50 seconds faster than his previous best. Mills is the only American to win an Olympic gold medal at that distance; Galen Rupp claimed silver this year at the London Olympics.
Mills, the national spokesperson for Running Strong for American Indian Youth, is scheduled to be inducted at the SRA’s Hall of Fame and Annual Achievement Awards Banquet on Jan. 26 at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento.
“What’s great about Billy is he continues to stay around the sport,” said SRA executive director John Mansoor, noting Mills’ presence at local events like the California International Marathon and the Golden West Invitational.
“He’s always trying to help young athletes. That’s what we need everyone to do.”
Mills, who grew up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for Oglala Lakota Sioux in South Dakota, was an All-American runner at Kansas before entering the U.S. Marine Corps.
He finished second in the U.S. Olympic Trials. But no one saw an Olympic gold medal coming his way.
“In most people’s minds, there’s no greater achievement than a gold medal in the Olympics,” Mansoor said. “World records can come and go. Gold medals last forever.
“He’s the only American athlete to ever have won that. He is clearly standing above everyone because of that achievement.”
The SRA is accepting nominations for its Hall of Fame until Oct. 15 and for its Annual Achievement Awards until Dec. 15. There are five Hall of Fame categories: track, cross country, road racing, marathon and ultramarathon. More than 100 Annual Achievement Awards are expected to be presented.
Nomination forms are available at www.runsra.org.
Mansoor said starting a Hall of Fame is a great way to honor local running talent.
“Sacramento’s had some great, great athletes over the years,” Mansoor said. “These athletes deserve to be recognized.”
Tickets are $50 per person. For more information, visit www.runsra.org.
The Sacramento Running Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to finding ways to encourage people of all ages and abilities to run. The SRA is committed to developing new, quality running events that appeal to a broad variety of runners.
SRA events include the California International Marathon, which celebrates its 30th anniversary on Dec. 2. More than 8,600 runners and 800 relay teams have already registered for the race.
Other SRA events include the Lake Natoma Four Bridges Half Marathon on Oct. 28, The Super Bowl Sunday 10k Run on Feb. 3 and the Credit Union SACTOWN Ten-Mile Run on April 7.
SRA beneficiaries include the American River Parkway, youth fitness programs, local running venues and aspiring young runners.