Children’s book focuses on the ‘gold medal dreams’ of Olympic champion and Navy vet Billy Mills

An Olympic official throws a towel at Marine Corps Lt. Billy Mills after finishing 14th in the marathon at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Days earlier, Mills had beaten 37 of the world’s top endurance runners to the gold medal. gold in the 10,000 meters with a record time of 28 minutes, 24.4 seconds. (Stars and Stripes)

A Native American and former Marine who won a gold medal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics is teaming up with an author and illustrator to publish a children’s picture book about his life.

In one of the biggest upsets in sports history, Billy Mills, then a 26-year-old Navy lieutenant, set an Olympic record of 28:24.4 over 10,000 meters to win gold on October 14, 1964. .

“10,000 Meter Thriller – MILLS SCORES UPSET” proclaimed the front page of Stars and Stripes after the race. The story described the victory – the first for the United States over this distance – as “one of the greatest shocks of all time” and said no one expected the young Marine to beat the Australian favourite, world record holder, Ron Clarke.

Fifty-eight years later, Mills, 83, of Sacramento, Calif., is collaborating with author Donna Janell Bowman and Native American artist SD Nelson to produce an autobiographical picture book titled “Wings of an Eagle: The Gold Medal Dreams of Billy Mills”. ”

The book will chronicle Mills’ experiences as an Oglala Lakota child growing up orphaned on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and the events that led to his dream of winning an Olympic gold medal, according to a statement from the February 4 from Running Strong.

The group, founded by Mills in 1986, partners with nonprofit organizations to provide grants to Native Americans to improve their self-reliance and self-esteem.

Marine Corps Lt. Billy Mills finished 14th in the marathon at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Days earlier, he beat 37 of the world's top endurance runners to gold in the 10,000 meters with a time record of 28 minutes, 24.4 seconds.

Marine Corps Lt. Billy Mills finished 14th in the marathon at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Days earlier, he beat 37 of the world’s top endurance runners to gold in the 10,000 meters with a time record of 28 minutes, 24.4 seconds. (Stars and Stripes)

The Olympic champion’s life story was featured in the 1983 film “Running Brave”, starring Robby Benson. Mills also co-wrote “Wokini: Your Personal Journey to Happiness and Self-Understanding” with bestselling author Nicholas Sparks.

Bowman is the author of award-winning children’s books, including “Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World About Kindness”, “Abraham Lincoln’s Dueling Words” and “The Sioux: The Past and Present of the Dakota, Lakota” . , and Nakota.

Nelson, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, is the award-winning illustrator and author of numerous children’s books, including “Black Elk’s Vision”, “Gift Horse”, “The Star People” and “Buffalo Bird Girl”, the statement said.

Mills’ new book will be published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers in the summer of 2024, according to the release.

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