Tokyo countdown: 25 days, 25 amazing Olympic memories

Olympic rings are formed in the sky by planes of the Japanese Self Defense Forces during opening ceremonies of the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
Olympic rings are formed in the sky by planes of the Japanese Self Defense Forces during opening ceremonies of the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

The Tokyo Games are almost here. We individually revisit an amazing Olympic memory, per diem, over the 25-day leadup.

For more thrilling Olympic memories, stream the Great Moments channel on Peacock.

NBC will have comprehensive coverage of the Tokyo Olympics' opening ceremony on Friday, July 23, beginning live at 6:55 a.m. ET. The ceremony will be re-aired at 7:30 p.m. ET for U.S. viewers who tune in for primetime, then replayed again overnight.

Billy Mills, 1964 Tokyo Games

Gold - Men's 10,000m

View social media post: https://twitter.com/NBCOlympics/status/1409656754233741318

Prior to 1964, the United States' only Olympic track and field medal in the men's 10,000m was a silver won by Hopi Indian Louis Tewanima at the 1912 Stockholm Games. But an unlikely hero put an end to the 52-year drought at that year's Tokyo Olympics, out-kicking then world record-holder Ron Clarke of Australia in the process.

Marine lieutenant Billy Mills – who also happened to be Native American, nearly half-Sioux – entered the race more than a minute slower than Clarke on paper. However, the 26-year-old surprised the field and spectators by joining Clarke and Tunisia's Mohamed Gammoudi in the lead pack with about a lap to go.

After Gammoudi sprung to the front by splitting Mills and Clarke on the back stretch, Mills dropped to third. He then came roaring back with 30 to 20 yards remaining, flying by both competitors to win in a shocking 45-second personal-best of 28:24.4 and capture the first and only Olympic men's 10,000m gold medal.

Not until Galen Rupp's silver at the 2012 London Games, nearly a half-century later, did an American man earn an Olympic medal in the event.

His story is portrayed in the 1983 Canadian biopic "Running Brave."

SEE MORE: Track & Field 101: Olympic history