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Billy Mills was raised in poverty on the Oglala Sioux Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota but became good enough at long-distance running to get a scholarship to the University of Kansas. He was an afterthought, though, in the Olympics 10,000 meters, a race no American had ever won before (or since). It was a surprise when he went into the final backstretch in third place. But it was even more of a shock when he kicked in the final straightaway to sprint to the gold medal in a time 50 seconds faster than he had ever run. Bud Palmer, the play-by-play man, was somewhat sedate in his announcing, but NBC analyst Dick Bank was almost apoplectic, yelling, "Look at Mills. Look at Mills." Mills, only the second Native American to win a gold medal, went into the Marine Corps soon afterward, an American hero. Bank ¿ astonishingly, given the hype Olympics TV became ¿ was never employed again as an Olympics broadcaster.
May. 23, 2012