The 10,000 meter race at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics has been called one of the greatest upsets in Olympic history. It also produced a finish every bit as thrilling as Jason Lezak vs. Alain Bernard. The American hero of the race, a previously unknown University of Kansas alum of Native American ancestry named Billy Mills, would go on to become one of the most famous long distance runners in United States history.
As David Wallechinsky details in his definitive "The Complete Book of the Olympics," Mills shocked Tokyo by holding off world record holder Ron Clarke and another unknown, Tunisia's Mohamed Gammoudi, in a tulmutous final lap that saw multiple lead changes, pinned runners and thrown elbows.
My dad has often talked about how this race is his favorite Olympic moment, but I always figured it was because of the magnitude of Mills' upset, not because the finish was so gripping.
The story of the race and of Mills' life growing up as an orphan was chronicled in the 1993 film "Running Brave".