1924 Olympics- Flying Finn
Finland’s Paavo Nurmi won the 1500 meters in 1924 by 1.4 seconds. He lived by the stopwatch and carried one during races. He slowed near the finish to conserve energy for his 5000-meter race less than two hours later. His time of 3:53.6 set an Olympic record. Finland’s Ville Ritola set a fast pace in the 5000 final. Nurmi matched Ritola’s strong finish and set another Olympic record (14:31.2). Nurmi became the first runner to win the 1500 and 5000 in the same Olympics.
1964 Olympics- Mills scores upset in 10,000
American Billy Mills shocked the running world with his upset victory in the 10,000 meters in 1964. Mills survived a tough final lap against favorite Ron Clarke of Australia and Mohamed Gammoudi of Tunisian The three exchanged the lead during the last lap while contending lapped runners. Mills’ final sprint allowed him to break the tape in a then-Olympic record time of 28:24.4, which was 46 seconds lower than his previous personal best.
1960 and 1964 Olympics- Abebe Bikila
A bearfoot Ethiopian marathon runner Abebe Bikila won the Gold medal in the 1960 Rome Olympics. In the 1964 Tokyo Olympics he wore shoes and easily won the marathon only a month after an appendectomy. He became the first to depend his Olympic Gold marathon and also break the Olympic Record. In the peak of his athletic career he was tragically crippled when his car was turned over and he was confined to a wheel chair.