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1964 Olympic Games Tokyo, Japan - Men's 10000 m



Host City: Tokyo, Japan Format: Final only.
Date Started: October 14, 1964
Date Finished: October 14, 1964
(Competitors: 38; Countries: 17)
Venue(s): National Stadium, Shinjuku, Tokyo
Overview by IAAF  1964_olympic_stadium.jpg
After a fast first kilometre (2:42.0) the pace eased, but the leaders still passed halfway in 14:04.6, as world record holder Ron Clarke did most of the work with surges every second lap. Both Bolotnikov and Halberg, fancied for medals before the Games, had fallen away from the pace by halfway, as did the teenage American sensation Gerry Lindgren. Five men were in the leading peloton at the 5000m, but marathon specialist Tsuburaya lost touch with the leaders in the sixth kilometre. Clarke, and his supporting cast – Wolde, Mills and Gammoudi – each took turns in the lead, and went through 9000m in 25:42.8 with Clarke just ahead. Wolde lost contact with two laps to go, and Clarke led from Mills and Gammoudi at the bell. Mills went into the lead on the back straight, but was knocked off stride by Clarke when a lapped runner got in the way. At this point Gammoudi sprinted through between them, and held off Clarke in the finishing straight. Suddenly Mills appeared on the outside and sped past Clarke and Gammoudi with 50m to go. Stunned, Clarke gave up the fight and Gammoudi took silver 3m behind Mills, who had run his last lap in 59.8. Mills, seven 16ths Sioux Indian, won the USA’s first ever gold medal in the m.
Summary by
The favorite was Australian Ron Clarke, the world record holder known for his fast times, but who had difficulty winning major titles. He was expected to be challenged by the defending champion, Pyotr Bolotnikov, the 1962 European Champion, and twice a world-record setter, and the 1960 5K champion, Murray Halberg of New Zealand. Clarke set a fast pace, surging every other lap. At 5K, only five leaders remained, but it was not who was expected. Besides Clarke, the pack included Tunisia's Mohamad Gammoudi, Ethiopia's Mamo Wolde, Japan's Kokichi Tsuburaya, and a surprise American, Billy Mills. Tsuburaya was dropped in the sixth kilometer. At the bell, Clarke led, with Mills to his outside. But a lapped runner was between them, so Clarke moved out, pushing Mills into an outer lane, as Gammoudi moved past them both on the inside, quickly opening up a 10-metre lead. Clarke moved up to Gammoudi's shoulder at the top of the stretch and passed him, but Gammoudi fought back. Then suddenly, as if an apparition had come upon them, Billy Mills sprinted past both and won by three metres over Gammoudi, Clarke getting the bronze medal.
Mills was completely unknown prior to the race. Asked if he was concerned about Mills, Clarke replied, "Concerned about him, I never heard of him." One Japanese reporter asked Mills, "Who are you?" His victory is often considered the greatest upset in Olympic track & field history. Mills was part Sioux Indian, and worked for years after his victory as an inspirational leader for the betterment of Native Americans. He was also given warrior status by the Oglala Sioux, and an Indian name – Makoce Teh'la.


This race was billed by Track & Field News as “the greatest 10,00 meters of all time.” There was a large field of 38 starters. Even more had entered and there was a strong lobby to schedule heats. As it turned out, the large field did affect the race in the last lap as the leaders had to dodge in and out of the 12 lapped runners. Clarke compared his  last lap to “a dash for a train in a peak-hour crowd.” (Ron Clarke, The Unforgiving Minute, p. 19) 

Almost half of the 38 starters had beaten 29:00 for 10,000 or the Six-Miles equivalent.  With the WR at 28:15.6, this meant that there were a lot of runners who could be considered as potential medalists. The most favored was WR-holder Ron Clarke. The previous year he had surprised the world by knocking 2.6 seconds of Bolotnikov’s WR with 28:15.6. However, he was relatively inexperienced at international level. Bolotnikov, himself, was also in the field. The current Olympic champion at this distance still commanded respect at age 34. His form, however, was questionable. Another favorite was 5,000 Olympic champion Murray Halberg (31), who had an impressive 28:33 clocking to his name. The American hopes were in 18-year-old Gerry Lindgren and Marine Billy Mills (26), who had a best time equivalent to 28:56. The Russians, also had a fine specialist in Leonid Ivanov, who had been consistently improving his times in the 28:40s. 

Pyotr Bolotnikov, the Olympic champion in Rome, led the field on a wet track with a brisk 64 first lap. When he slowed, Ron Clarke took the lead and was at the head of the field for much of the first half of the race. There were no attempts to break over the first 5,000. The kilometer times and the leaders were as follows: 1,000 Mills and Gamoudi (Tunisia) 2:42.0; 2,000 5:29.6 Clarke; 3,000 Wolde (Ethiopia) 8:20.9; 4,000 Clarke 11:13; 5,000 Mills 14:04.6. This WR pace reduced the lead pack to five runners: Mills, Clarke, Wolde, Gamoudi and Tsuburaya (Japan).

After the halfway mark, the Japanese was soon dropped. And over the four the next 4K Clarke tried to assert his authority: “My improvised plan was to accelerate every other lap in the hope of separating myself…. My pursuers held on.” (The Unforgiving Minute, p. 17) At one stage Mills dropped back almost 15 meters.  But Clarke could not take advantage of this. The overall pace per K was very steady: Clarke led at all the splits: 6,000 16:57.9; 7,000 19:52.6; 8,000 22:47; 9,000 25:42.8. With three laps to go, Clarke felt confident of victory. Then Wolde, nursing a calf injury, dropped off, leaving just three runners to sort out the medals. 

Under stadium lights that had just been turned on, the trio were locked together at the bell. Clarke and Mills were running side-by-side. Almost immediately they encountered a lapped runner on the crown of the bend who did not follow the etiquette of “moving out.” (Bolotnikov, Clarke recalls, was the only one who did move out when being lapped.) It was at the moment of overtaking that the drama occurred. Mills, on the outside, was reluctant to allow Clarke to run wide past the lapped runner. They bumped and Mills staggered across three lanes to his right. This allowed Gamoudi, who was right behind, to dash between them into the lead. The film shows clearly that Gamoudi grabbed Clarke’s shoulder at this point to get ahead. Mills recovered well and followed Clarke to chase down the Tunisian. Once in the lead, Gamoudi increased his lead to 7 meters by the start of the last bend. Then Clarke made his effort and quickly closed the gap. He managed to catch Gamoudi at about 80 from the tape. Mills lost ground on Clarke from the crown of the bend and seemed to be out of the race for first place. 

Billy Mills sprints past Gamoudi and Clarke for a clear vctory.

Clarke’s great effort had brought him up to Gamoudi’s side, but he never got ahead, as the Tunisian managed to respond to his challenge. Mills meanwhile seemed to get a new life and quickly closed on the other two. He closed from 100-50 to go, and then exploded, roaring past Clarke and then Gamoudi for an astonishing victory. “His burst was so totally unexpected that it deflated both Mohamed and me,” Clarke recalled. (The Unforgiving Minute, p. 19) The first four beat the Olympic record; the times of the first three were impressive in view of the crowded and soft track.

Retrospect: Billy Mills ran a PB of 42 seconds and commented that he ran the race as if in a dream. He told Track and Field News: “I guess I was the only one who thought I had a chance. I figured if I stayed up there with the leaders, my speed would carry me in.” (Oct/Nov. 1964, p. 13.) Clarke following a talk with Murray Halberg, admitted that as WR holder he should have taken the initiative. But he wrote later: “Billy deserved to win for his persistence, his opportunism and his sound tactical sense in finally making his bid on the outside lane, which was firmer.” Gamoudi ran brilliantly but was lucky not to have been disqualified. Halberg (7th with 29:10.8 PB) ran well considering he was suffering from a virus. Bolotnikov (25th in 3 0:52.8) ran with an injury suffered just prior to this race. 

1. Billy Mills USA 28:24.4; 2. Mohamed Gamoudi TUN 28:24.8; 3. Ron Clarke AUS 28:25.8; 4. Mamo Wolde ETH 28:31.8; 5. Leonid Ivanov USSR 28:53.2; 6. Kokichi Tsuburaya JAP 28:59.4.

10000 m Men Final 14 October

World record holder Ron Clarke set the tone of the race. His tactic of surging every other lap appeared to be working. Halfway through the race, only five runners were still with Clarke: Mohammed_Gammoudi of Tunisia, Mamo Wolde of Ethiopia, Barry_Magee of New_Zealand, Kokichi Tsuburaya of Japan, and Mills. Magee and Tsuburaya, the local favorite, lost contact first, then Wolde. With two laps to go, only two runners were still with Clarke. On paper, it seemed to be Clarke's race. He had run a world record time of 28:15.6 while neither Gammoudi nor Mills had ever run under 29 minutes.

Mills and Clarke were running together with Gammoudi right behind as they entered the final lap. They were lapping other runners and, down the backstretch, Clarke was boxed in. He pushed Mills once, then again. Then Gammoudi pushed his way between them both and surged into the lead as they rounded the final curve. Clarke recovered and began chasing Gammoudi while Mills appeared to be too far back to be in contention. Clarke failed to catch Gammoudi, but Mills pulled out to lane 4 and sprinted past them both. His winning time of 28:24.4 was almost 50 seconds faster than he had run before and set a new Olympic record for the event. No American had ever before won the 10,000 m, nor has any other American come seriously close until Galen Rupp took the silver at the 2012 London Olympics.

American television viewers were able to hear the surprise and drama as NBC expert analyst Dick Bank screamed, "Look at Mills, look at Mills" over the more sedate play-by-play announcer Bud Palmer, who seemed to miss what was unfolding. For bringing that drama to the coverage, Bank was fired.

The top four runners beat the Olympic record.

Rank Mark Athlete Country NOC Age Records Notes
1 28.24.4 Billy Mills United States USA 26 OR
2 28.24.8 Mohamad Gammoudi Tunisia TUN 26
3 28.25.8 Ron Clarke Australia AUS 27
4 28.31.8 Mamo Wolde Ethiopia ETH 32
5 28.53.2 Leonid Ivanov Soviet Union URS 27
6 28.59.4 Kokichi Tsuburaya Japan JPN 24
7 29.10.8 Murray Halberg New Zealand NZL 31
8 29.15.8 Tony Cook Australia AUS 28
9 29.20.6 Gerry Lindgren United States USA 18
10 29.21.0 Franc Červan Yugoslavia YUG 27
11 29.27.0 Siegfried Herrmann Germany GER 31
12 29.29.6 Henri Clerckx Belgium BEL 28
13 29.30.8 Jean Fayolle France FRA 26
14 29.33.2 Teruo Funai Japan JPN 26
15 29.33.6 Jean Vaillant France FRA 32
16 29.43.0 József Sütő Hungary HUN 27
17 29.46.4 Josef Tomáš Czechoslovakia TCH 30
18 29.53.0 Ron Hill Great Britain GBR 26
19 30.00.8 Pål Benum Norway NOR 29
20 30.04.6 Siegfried Rothe Germany GER 26
21 30.12.0 Mike Bullivant Great Britain GBR 30
22 30.22.4 Fergus Murray Great Britain GBR 22
23 30.32.0 Barry Magee New Zealand NZL 30
24 30.42.6 Ron Larrieu United States USA 27
25 30.52.8 Pyotr Bolotnikov Soviet Union URS 34
26 30.56.4 Bruce Kidd Canada CAN 21
27 30.56.6 Arthur Hannemann Germany GER 28
28 31.00.6 Kazumi Watanabe Japan JPN 28
29 34.21.2 Ranatunge Karunananda Sri Lanka SRI 28
AC DNF Pascal Mfyomi Tanzania TAN 22
AC DNF Naftali Temu Kenya KEN 19
AC DNF János Pintér Hungary HUN 27
AC DNF Jim Hogan Ireland IRL 31
AC DNF Muharrem Dalkılıç Turkey TUR 26
AC DNF Andrei Barabaş Romania ROU 26
AC DNF Fernando Aguilar Spain ESP 26
AC DNF Mohamed Hadheb Hannachi Tunisia TUN 26
AC DNF Nikolay Dutov Soviet Union URS 25

 Detailed View

 AthleteNationTime   5000
1 Billy Mills United States 28:24.4 OR   14:04.6
2 Mohammed Gammoudi Tunisia 28:24.8 14:07.0
3 Ron Clarke Australia 28:25.8 14:05.0
4 Mamo Wolde Ethiopia 28:31.8 14:06.0
5 Leonid Ivanov Soviet Union 28:53.2 14:13.0
6 Kōkichi Tsuburaya Japan 28:59.3 14:09.0
7 Murray Halberg New Zealand 29:10.8 14:16.0
8 Anthony Cook Australia 29:15.8 14:11.0
9 Gerald Paul Lindgren United States 29:20.6 14:12.0
10 Franc Cervan Yugoslavia 29:21.0 14:16.0
11 Siegfried Herrmann Germany 29:27.0 14:17.0
12 Henri Clerckx Belgium 29:29.6 14:28.0
13 Jean Fayolle France 29:30.8 14:27.0
14 Funai Teruo Japan 29:33.2 14:27.0
15 Jean Vaillant France 29:33.6 14:27.0
16 József Sütő Hungary 29:43.0 14:36.0
17 Josef Tomas Czechoslovakia 29:46.4 14:39.0
18 Ron Hill Great Britain 29:53.0 14:27.0
19 Pal Benum Norway 30:00.8 14:38.0
20 Siegfried Rothe Germany 30:04.6 14:39.0
21 Michael Bullivant Great Britain 30:12.0 14:28.0
22 Alistair Fergus Murray Great Britain 30:22.4 14:29.0
23 Barry Magee New Zealand 30:32.0 14:06.0
24 Gilbert Ronald Larrieu United States 30:42.6 14:37.0
25 Pyotr Bolotnikov Soviet Union 30:52.8 14:42.0
26 Bruce Kidd Canada 30:56.4 14:43.0
27 Artur Hannemann Germany 30:56.6 15:13.0
28 Watanabe Kazumi Japan 31:00.6 15:12.0
29 Ranatunge Karunananda Ceylon 32:21.2 16:43.0




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