A collection of films highlighting excellence
Billy Mills was born on June 30, 1938 in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. He is Oglala Lakota (Sioux) and grew up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Billy did not have an easy childhood. Surrounded by poverty and orphaned at the age of 12, he started running to channel his energy into something positive. In high school, his gift for running become more apparent as he set records in numerous track events. He went on to earn a track scholarship from the University of Kansas and then served as an Officer in the United States Marine Corps. At the 1964 Olympics, he shocked the world and came from behind to win the gold medal in the 10k race.
James Cleveland "Jesse" Owens was an American track and field athlete and four-time Olympic gold medalist in the 1936 Games. Owens specialized in the sprints and the long jump and was recognized in his lifetime as the greatest and most famous athlete in track and field history. Owens realized that he had a passion for running. Throughout his life, Owens attributed the success of his athletic career to the encouragement of Charles Riley, his junior high track coach at Fairmount Junior High School.
Alice Coachman became the first African American woman to win an Olympic Gold Medal at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, UK. Alice Coachman trained by running on dirt roads and creating her own hurdles to practice jumping. Even though Alice Coachman parents did not support her interest in athletics, she was encouraged by her fifth grade teacher and her aunt to develop her talents.
Sir Roger Bannister was a British middle-distance athlete, doctor and academic who ran the first sub-4-minute mile. At the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Bannister set a British record in the 1500 meters and finished in fourth place. This achievement strengthened his resolve to become the first athlete to finish the mile run in under four minutes. He accomplished this feat on 6 May 1954 at Iffley Road track in Oxford, with Chris Chataway and Chris Brasher providing the pacing. When the announcer, Norris McWhirter, declared "The time was three...", the cheers of the crowd drowned out Bannister's exact time, which was 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds. He had attained this record with minimal training, while practicing as a junior doctor. Bannister's record lasted just 46 days.
Mike Powell-World long jump record holder; 1991and 1993 World Outdoor champion; 1988 & 1992 Olympic silver medalist; six-time U.S. Outdoor champ. Set world record of 8.95m/29-4.50 in winning epic duel against Carl Lewis at the 1991 IAAF World Outdoor Championships in Tokyo, handing Lewis his first defeat in the long jump in 10 years. Born in Philadelphia, Powell moved with his family to California at age 11. Although his first love was basketball, Powell ended up on the track team at UC-Irvine after long jumping 23-8 and high jumping 7-0 as a senior in high school. Powell never scored in an NCAA meet while at UC-Irvine, and was nicknamed "Mike Foul" for his many unsuccessful attempts at hitting the board.
Joan Benoit Samuelson - The winner of the first Olympic women's marathon at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, Samuelson is synonymous with the increased popularity of long distance running in the United States. Samuelson won the Olympic Trials Marathon at age 26, just 17 days following agonizing knee surgery. Samuelson, who was ranked #1 in the world in the marathon on two occasions, is a former world and U.S. record holder in that event. She was the 1981 U.S. 10,000m champion and the 1984 U.S. women's marathon champion. Samuelson set the world and U.S. women's marathon record in 1984, and set the U.S. women's marathon record on four occasions.
Jim Ryun-The first high school runner to break 4 minutes in the one-mile run, Jim Ryun had yet to graduate from East High School in Wichita, Kans., when he made his first Olympic team in 1964. A year later, he set the American record of 3:55, beating Olympic champion Peter Snell of New Zealand. In all, Ryun set six world records and held the world mile record for nine years and U.S. mile record for 14 years. He won three National AAU one-mile titles and five national collegiate titles, four of them indoors. In 1967, he received the Sullivan Award as the nation's top amateur athlete. Although ill with mononucleosis in 1968, he made the Olympic team and fought off the rarefied air of Mexico City to take the silver medal in the 1500.
Steve Prefontaine was was better known as "Pre" to the crowds that chanted his name as he ran. While at Oregon, he won six national collegiate distance titles, including cross country, under Hall of Fame coaches Bill Bowerman and Bill Dellinger. He also won two AAU crowns and set 15 American records at every distance from two miles through 10,000 meters. Even his rare losses were run with flair and determination. One of the most memorable of them was the 5000m final at the 1972 Olympics, where 21-year-old Prefontaine boldly took the lead with four laps to go and pushed the pace, only to lose a medal in the final strides of the race.
Matthew Centrowitz Jr. In August 2016 he won the Olympic Gold Medal in the 1500 to finish his season undefeated and become the first American to win Gold in the 1500 in 108 years. Quite simply, Matthew Centrowitz, Jr. makes winning look too easy, effortless. One may too quickly assume it is purely in his blood; the comparisons to his two-time Olympian father are easy to jump to. But, don’t be fooled, the vigor for which Centro cuts through the finishing tape is hard-fought, you just can’t see it.
Frank Shorter is an American former long-distance runner who won the gold medal in the marathon at the 1972 Summer Olympics and the silver medal at the 1976 Summer Olympics. His Olympic success, along with the achievements of other American runners, is credited with igniting the running boom in the United States during the 1970s.
Brad Walker was born in Aberdeen, South Dakota currently holds the American outdoor record in the pole vault, set in 2008 at the Nike Prefontaine Classic with his clearance of 6.04m/19-9.75, which was also the top clearance in the world that year. In 2006 he won the World Indoor Championships in Moscow with a jump of 5.80 meters. In July 2006, at Jockgrim, Germany, Brad Walker, cleared 6 meters, the best performance of the year, in a pole vault competition. He won the gold in the world championships on 1 September 2007.
Alan Webb is an American former track and field athlete and former triathlete. He holds the American national record in the mile, with a time of 3:46.91. Webb represented the United States at the 2004 Summer Olympics in the men's 1500-meters race. May 27, 2001 at the Prefontaine Classic, Webb ran a mile in 3:53.43 to shatter Ryun's 36-year-old national high school record of 3:55.3. En route Webb passed the 1500 mark in 3:38.26 to take down Ryun's 37-year-old high school AR of 3:39.0 set in 1964.
Jacqueline "Jackie" Joyner-Kersee is an American retired track and field athlete, ranked among the all-time greatest athletes in the heptathlon as well as long jump. She won three gold, one silver, and two bronze Olympic medals, in those two events at four different Olympic Games. Sports Illustrated for Women magazine voted Joyner-Kersee the Greatest Female Athlete of All-Time.
Craig Virgin An American distance runner who is the only American male to be on three Olympic teams in the 10,000 meters (1976, 1980, 1984), and the only American male to win the IAAF World Cross Country Championships. His victories came in Paris, France (1980) and Madrid, Spain (1981). Virgin is a legend in Illinois high school track and cross country circles, where he held the 2-mile record for many years. His time of 8:40.9 still stands as the second fastest time ever recorded in an all high school race, and broke the late Steve Prefontaine's National High School record. He still holds the Illinois State High School Cross Country 3-mile record of 13:50.6 since 1973 at Detweiller Park.
Dick Beardsley vs Alberto Salazar
Still these two efforts rank 6th and 7th of all time U.S. Marathon finishers. One was a humble farm boy from Minnesota. The other was the most electrifying distance runner of his time. In 1982, they battled stride for stride for more than two hours in the most thrilling Boston Marathon ever run.
#6. Alberto Salazar—2:08:52, Boston Marathon, 1982
#7. Dick Beardsley—2:08:54, Boston Marathon, 1982
Eliud Kipchoge is a Kenyan long distance runner, and the 2016 Olympic marathon gold medallist. He has been described as “the greatest marathoner of the modern era”. He has won 9 out of 10 marathons he raced, in his second marathon in 2013 when Wilson Kipsang ran the then world record, he finished second. On 6 May 2017, as part of the Nike Breaking2 project, he ran a marathon distance in 2:00:25 at the Monza race track, Italy. His time marks the fastest marathon ever run, but is not an official world record due to the circumstances in which it occurred.