Billy Mills gave a talk tonight at the USATF XC Championships guest speaker event, the night before the races. His speech, given before a standing room only audience of athletes, coaches, journalists and athletes’ parents, was delivered in the first person in the Oglala Sioux style. Mr. Mills was able to share with his audience his experiences that formed him into a man – his father’s wisdom, the loss of his parents when too young, the pain of discrimination as a dark skinned American, his speechlessness when confronted by cruel words and cruel actions common in a time when political correctness was not a consideration. His father told him at age nine to stand in a circle scratched into the earth. He was told to feel the pains, the angers and the losses in his life. His father told him that he could step out of the circle at any time by reaching deep inside and finding his dream. Mr. Mills went on to pursue his dream with a focus and a strength that would be difficult for any man. We fans of the sport are eternally grateful that he did pursue his dream. He provided us with one of the most memorable Olympic 10,000 meter races in history. In the 1964 Olympic Games he raced from behind to win the 10,000 meter run, defeating the favorites Rom Clarke and Mohamed Gammoudi. In his talk, he finished with a play-by-play account of the final meters of the race. It is an account that I will remember and cherish, for it describes a true warrior and his victory on the track that infamous day in Tokyo, Japan. Mr. Mills is a true Oglala Sioux warrior who has lived true to the four virtues – Bravery, Fortitude, Wisdom and Generosity. The USATF website for the meet has a link to the video of Mr. Mills talk. It can be viewed by following this link – http://www.usatf.org/events/2010/USAXCChampionships/liveblog.asp

Steve Klotz – Reporting from USATF XC Championships in Spokane, WA – Friday, February 12th, 10:00pm