Jim Ryun

Birthday: 04/29/47 Mile PR: 3:51.1 - 1967 (former world record)
Metric Mile (1500m) PR: 3:33.1 - 1967 (former WR)
High School: Wichita East HS '65
Hometown: Wichita, KS
College: University of Kansas '70
Current Residence: Tampa, FL

Personal website: www.ryunrunning.com

Jim Ryun, a three-time Olympian at 1500 meters, was a silver medalist at the 1968 Mexico City Games. Ryun, at age 17, was the first high school boy to break 4 minutes for the Mile (3:59.0) in 1964 at the Compton Relays (CA) and his 1965 high school Mile record of 3:55.3 lasted nearly 36 years before Alan Webb broke it at the Prefontaine Classic in 2001. Ryun also has run the most sub-4 minute Miles for a high schooler, five (5), including the first sub-4 in a high school-only race and the only to-date state meet (3:58.3 at the 1965 Kansas State Meet).

Ryun was a five-time USA champion including three Mile titles and he set outdoor world records at 880, 1966; 1500m, 1967; and Mile (twice), 1966-67. In addition, he broke the U.S. record for the outdoor Mile four times once as a high school senior, twice as a college freshman and once as a sophomore at Kansas University. His 3:51.1 U.S. Mile record lasted more than 14 years before Steve Scott broke the standard in 1981. Ryun also set the indoor Mile WR (3:56.4, tie) in 1971 (only one of 4 men to hold indoor & outdoor Mile WRs).

The Kansas Jayhawk finished his collegiate career with 4 NCAA Mile titles, 3 indoor (1967-69) and 1 outdoor (1967), and 5 NCAA crowns overall (also indoor 2 Mile, 1968).

In 1966, he won the Sullivan Award and was Sports Illustrated’s ‘‘Sportsman of the Year", and in 2003, ESPN.com selected Ryun as the best high school athlete ever over LeBron James and Tiger Woods. Overall, Jim Ryun has appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated seven times, the most of any track & field athlete.

In addition, he is the only American to be world-ranked #1 in the 1500m / Mile in back-to-back years (1966-67).

Ryun later served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1996 to 2007, representing the 2nd District in Kansas.

In 2018, the legend was fittingly one of 30 athletes inducted into the National High School Track & Field Hall of Fame, inaugural class.

On July 24, 2020 in Washington, DC, Ryun received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

In 2022, the KU Jayhawk was one of 30 inductees into the inaugural class of USTFCCCA’s Collegiate Athlete Hall of Fame.

FUN FACT: Jim Ryun was the first athlete to set a Mile world record by running every lap under 60 seconds: (57.9, 57.6 [1:55.5], 59.8 [2:55.3], 56.0), clocking 3:51.3 in Berkeley, CA on July 17, 1966.

FUN FACT II: Ryun is also the last American male to hold the outdoor Mile world record, his epic 3:51.1 in Bakersfield, CA on June 23, 1967.



Jim Ryun thrilled to see prep Milers breaking the 4-minute mark

June 17, 2022

“I think they realize it’s not a barrier that can’t be broken, it’s more of a matter that if you break it will you go on from there..."

By Ashley Conklin for World Athletics Championships Oregon22

A record five U.S. high school boys have combined to break the coveted, revered 4-minute Mile...

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Jim Ryun: The world’s deadliest ever finisher?

January 05, 2021

High school phenom went on to produce finishing bursts that definitely would have won him modern medals in slow run races and apart from the unhelpful surfaces, remember there were no wonder shoes back then.

By Steven Smythe, Athletics Weekly

There are some races you think the way the race...

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Ryun raced to only one NCAA outdoor title

November 05, 2020


Jim Ryun of Kansas was about as big a favorite as could be to win his first NCAA outdoor title at the 1967 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Provo, Utah. He had set world records in both the Mile and 880 yards in an undefeated 1966 outdoor season.

Ryun’s first...

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Great Matchups: Liquori Beats Ryun in The Dream Mile

September 16, 2020

“I wanted us both sagging in the stretch, looking more like boxers, both dead, like we were running on sand.”

From Track & Field News

Track's rich history is full of great head-to-head clashes. To kick off our new series of trips to the TFN vaults to find coverage of some of the most...

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Jim Ryun to be awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

July 20, 2020

Mile legend, Olympic medalist & former congressman to receive nation’s highest civilian honor on Friday, July 24 in Washington, DC

By Taylor Eldridge, The Wichita Eagle

One of Wichita’s greatest all-time athletes is set to receive the nation’s highest civilian honor on Friday.

Jim Ryun, the...

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Jim Ryun selected Greatest U.S. Distance Runner by LetsRun voters

April 29, 2020

Mile legend scored a convincing victory in the tournament final, garnering 62.1% of the vote to Deena Kastor’s 37.9%; selection pool of 66 U.S. athletes

From LetsRun.com

He has broken world records.

He has won an Olympic medal.

He has appeared on seven Sports Illustrated covers, a record...

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Fab Five Mile Races

August 27, 2019

“I felt I could not have run a more perfect race.”

Steve Landells for the IAAF

The IAAF takes a look back at five unforgettable, historic races over the classic Mile distance.

1954 – Oxford, England

Roger Bannister’s Mile world record may have only lasted a mere 46 days but his place...

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Mile legend Jim Ryun didn’t want Olympic glory - he just wanted to make his high school team

May 26, 2019

Less than three years after taking up the sport, then nearly quitting it, he was running on the biggest stage in the world.

By Jenni Carlson, The Oklahoman

Back in the 1960s, there weren’t many athletes who were a bigger deal in our neck of the woods than Jim Ryun.

His exploits on the track...

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Finishing the Race

March 10, 2018

It is hard to put into words the impact Roger Bannister had, not just on me, but on the world.

By Jim Ryun

When I heard the news of Roger Bannister’s death last week at the age of 88, I recalled the first time I ever heard of Bannister, in the spring of 1963.

I was rattling back to Wichita...

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Jim Ryun’s run for the ages

June 17, 2017

Legend and three-time Olympian marks 50th anniversary of Mile world record: "One of the easiest races of my life."

Bob Burns for USATF

Jim Ryun was used to setting world records, so his 3:51.1 Mile at the 1967 AAU Championships hardly came as a surprise. What surprised him was how effortless...

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The Training of Jim Ryun an American Superstar

May 23, 2017

Ryun’s high school coach, Bob Timmons, was formerly a swimming coach, and he more or less trained Ryun as a swimmer.

By Runner's Tribe

The first American high school athlete to run a sub-4 Mile, multiple world record holder, Olympic 1500m silver medalist. Jim Ryun to this day is an American...

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Jim Ryun reflects upon breaking his Mile world record 50 years ago

April 29, 2017

“Coach Timmons would reach way down in our souls, find these amazing talents and pull them out."

By Tom Keegan, Lawrence Journal-World

Somewhere, sitting on a basketball team’s bench or listed way down on a football squad’s depth chart, or standing in front of a gymnasium door searching in...

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The Jim Ryun, Mile Legend, Interview

October 28, 2016

We need to be far more fan-friendly and that’s why I’m so pleased with ‘Bring Back the Mile’ and what they have been able to do. It’s one of those efforts where we realize they are investing in the future and the public and it helps people to identify with it all.

By Gary Cohen,...

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Jim Ryun shatters Mile world record 50 years ago

July 17, 2016

“In New Zealand, we thought the Mile belonged to us. It was a shock when Jazy broke Peter Snell’s record, but when I heard on the radio that the American kid had run two seconds faster, I thought it must be a mistake."; No American male has held the outdoor Mile world record since.

By Roger...

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My fall at Olympics: One of the best things to happen to me

July 13, 2016

The challenge of Munich forced us to grow up very fast. We developed a whole new understanding of forgiveness.

By Jim Ryun for Vox.com

The first time I ran in the Olympics, I was a junior in high school. While my classmates were in school in Wichita, Kansas, I was competing in Tokyo.

When I...

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One State, Three Mile Legends: Cunningham, Santee, Ryun

November 05, 2015

Record setting, Olympic trio hail from Kansas, the Sunflower State

By Bring Back the Mile

Kansas is known for its expansive wheat fields, but it has also amazingly grown three of the greatest Milers in history: Glenn Cunningham, Wes Santee and Jim Ryun. Consider below the impressive...

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Miler Jim Ryun’s 50-year-old upset of Peter Snell still a magic moment in history

June 27, 2015

In an age when track & field was more popular in the U.S. than the NBA, NHL and what is now NASCAR, no one was a bigger star than high schooler Ryun

By Scott M. Reid, The Orange County Register

In early June 1965, Jim Ryun, an 18-year-old senior at Wichita’s East High School, and his coach...

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The 4 Minute High School Mile, 50 Years Later

May 15, 2015

A half-century after a Kansas high schooler ran the Mile in under 4:00, a select five U.S. boys have joined the sub-4 club with Jim Ryun

By Kevin Helliker, Wall Street Journal

On Monday I called Jim Ryun, thinking it would be cool to tell the greatest Miler in American history something he...

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50th Anniversary of Jim Ryun’s Epic Sub-4 at Kansas State Meet

May 15, 2015

First sub-4 Mile at high school-only competition and State meet and still the only sub-4 at a State meet.

By Bring Back the Mile

On May 15, 1965, Jim Ryun, who a year earlier had already broken 4 minutes in the Mile as a junior for Wichita East High in Wichita, Kansas, the first prep athlete...

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Running Advice from Jim Ryun

October 08, 2014

"I know Coach Timmons had to really reach down inside of me at times and pull out some things that I didn’t think were there."

By Mike Rosenbaum, About.com Track & Field Expert

In the 1960s and early 1970s, Jim Ryun was among the world’s top middle distance runners. He credits some of his...

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Jim Ryun’s Favorite Mile Races

October 06, 2014

"And it was an answer to a prayer in that it was the easiest race of my life."

By Mike Rosenbaum, About.com Track & Field Expert

Jim Ryun made headlines in 1964 when he became the first high school runner to finish a Mile in less than four minutes. He went on to break the Mile world record...

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Jim Ryun Hopes to Bring Back the Mile

October 05, 2014

“I would say to the high school associations, we need to be more fan-friendly. People understand a Mile."

By Mike Rosenbaum, About.com Track & Field Expert

Jim Ryun is one of the greatest middle distance runners in United States history – an Olympic 1500 meter silver medalist and a former...

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Ryun reflects upon 50th anniversary of breaking 4 minute Mile

June 04, 2014

“When I crossed the finish line, I was a little discouraged, because I thought I hadn’t done it.”

By Rick Plumlee, The Wichita Eagle

Six hundred yards into the Mile race, Jim Ryun was bumped in the tight pack of runners. He stumbled off the track to the infield.

“I wasn’t even sure I’d...

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Ryun’s Historic High School Mile Celebrated in San Diego

June 03, 2014

“The Mile will always have a special place in people’s hearts. It transcends track & field, because it’s a very relatable distance.” - Alan Webb

By Richard A. Lovett for Running Times

Fifty years ago on June 5, a scrawny 17-year-old finished last in a historic Mile race in Compton,...

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Mile Moment of the Month: Jim Ryun’s Sub-4 at Kansas State Meet

May 15, 2014

Epic, history-making high school Mile race by teen phenom & 1964 Olympian stands the test of time

On Saturday, May 15, 1965, Jim Ryun, who a year earlier had already broken 4 minutes in the Mile as a junior for Wichita East High in Wichita, Kansas, the first prep athlete to achieve the magic...

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Jim Ryun Recounts His Storied High School Career

April 29, 2014

Mile legend special guest at May 10th Helping Hands 5K to benefit area’s homeless

By Keith Chartrand, Ocala Star-Banner

On the morning of May 10, hundreds of runners will take their mark at the Helping Hands 5K run at the Baseline Greenway Trailhead. All types of runners — male, female,...

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Ryun still winning in long run

March 31, 2014

Teen phenom, Mile legend and Olympic silver medalist: “While I was running, I had a hard time believing this was actually happening to me.”

By Joe Tuscano, Observer-Reporter

Maybe Jim Ryun had the most inauspicious start of any major sports figure in American history.

The church baseball...

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4 Wishes for the Mile in 2014

January 08, 2014

Any or all of the wishes would elevate, celebrate the storied distance, the athletes and the sport

By Ryan Lamppa, Bring Back the Mile

The year 2014 will mark Bring Back the Mile’s third year or third lap, and call me crazy and a dreamer, but presented below are my 4 wishes for the Mile,...

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Memorial Stadium’s Finest Mile

April 26, 2013

"Ryun was so dominant, everyone in the stadium was on their feet," remembers Larry Knuth, a longtime Los Angeles track & field coach who was there that night. "People were going nuts."

By Cathrine Merlo, The Bakersfield Californian

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – Those who were there still remember the...

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Pro-Tips: Jim Ryun

March 20, 2013

Pro-Tips is a series of articles directly from the pros. Tips from the mouth of the athletes who have reached the pinnacle of the sport. With tips of every kind, this article series is intended to help enlighten everyone on what it is the pros do that help set them apart.

By Rob Versaw,...

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Jim Ryun Returns to Site of Record Run

February 13, 2013

“But that night all the strategies we had planned went away and it became more of an instinctive thing to make the move when I did, even though I didn’t feel comfortable doing it."

By Toni Reavis

San Diego’s Balboa Stadium looked much different in 1965 when it was home to the AFL San Diego...

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The Super Milers Documentary: Thumbs Up, Way Up!

December 03, 2012

Outstanding, compelling hour-plus video covers the eleven world record holders of the Mile from Bannister to Coe

By Bring Back the Mile

The Super Milers documentary from Great Britain’s Channel 4 is entertaining and simply riveting. The hour-plus video covers the eleven world record holders...

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Going Head to Head: Who is the Greatest Miler in History?

September 20, 2012

By Barbara Huebner, NYRR News

Some of the greatest Milers in the world have won the Fifth Avenue Mile presented by Nissan, which will be run for the 32nd time on Saturday. Sydney Maree, Steve Scott, Mary Slaney, John Walker, Peter Elliott and Bernard Lagat are among those who have broken the...

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1968 Mexico City Olympic Games -1500 Meters- Jim Ryun vs Kip Keino

August 03, 2012

By Slicethelife

The most anticipated track and field event at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games was the match up in the 1500 meters with Jim Ryun taking on Kip Keino of Kenya.

Jim Ryun was an incredible runner. As a junior in high school in Kansas he was the first high schooler to run a 4...

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Group seeks higher profile for the Mile

February 15, 2012

"Here's a mark that transcends sports. It's something that's so embedded in our culture and other cultures that it's often referenced outside the sport."

By Eddie Pells, AP National Writer

It's the race that cemented Roger Bannister's name into history and the distance that everyday runners...

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Forty Years After a Dream Mile, a Harsh Reality for Track

May 15, 2011

By Tim Connelly, The New York Times

The news that the Millrose Games are leaving Madison Square Garden after 97 years to relocate uptown to the 168th Street armory reminds us of how indifferent we are to track and field. And yet, in a coincidence of timing, we remember, too, that we were not...

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Pressure’s on When Dad’s a Legend

May 28, 2010

By Bob Lutz, The Wichita Eagle

If you want to see what you're made of, try walking in the footsteps of greatness. Better yet, try running in them.

Jim Ryun, Glenn Cunningham and Archie San Romani Sr. are three of America's greatest distance runners, all produced right here in Kansas.


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The Ryun vs. Liquori Duels

December 08, 2009

Mile legends & Olympians, the Ali-Frazier of the track world, produced some epic races vs. each other

By Villanova Running

So far as I am aware, Marty Liquori and Jim Ryun raced each other a total of eight times. Ryun won the first four races. The fifth race -- the 1969 NCAA Indoor...

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High School Athletes Chase Sub-4-Minute Mile

June 24, 2009

By Tom Goldman, National Public Radio

In sport, no matter how much athletes evolve, there are achievements that remain elusive — if not unattainable. Examples include Joe DiMaggio getting a hit in 56 consecutive baseball games, or basketball star Wilt Chamberlain scoring 100 points.

In track...

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Ryun’s Record Still Stands

April 17, 2009

By Tom Keegan, Kansas University Sports

Comedian Will Ferrell, over-actor Paul Giamatti and tattoo model Pamela Anderson weren’t yet famous when the Kansas Relays Mile record that still stands was set by Jim Ryun. In fact, they all were in their mothers’ wombs.

With the help of the Kansas...

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The List: Best high school athletes ever

February 02, 2003

Jim Ryun, first high school boy to run sub-4 minute Mile, selected #1 over Tiger Woods and LeBron James

From ESPN Page 2 staff

LeBron James is uncommonly good. But just how uncommon? We dove into our collective brainpool and scoured ESPN's Fly High with Delta Bill Bradley Sports Library to...

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Is There Hope for U.S. Milers?

May 06, 2004

By Dick Patrick, USA Today

Fifty years ago today, Roger Bannister recorded the first sub-four-minute Mile — 3:59.4. Since then, as the world record has improved 16 seconds, elite U.S. male Milers have become practically an endangered species.

In an Olympic year, the talk isn't if the USA will...

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An Exclusive Club

June 27, 1994

Forty years after Roger Bannister broke four minutes, the brotherhood of Mile record holders gathered to honor their grand obsession

By Gary Smith, Sports Illustrated

Never join someone who eclipses you. Align yourself with one who increases your luster. The man who puts you in the shade...

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Where Have All Our Milers Gone?

September 22, 1986

To early burnout as a result of the U.S. system, says the author, and ''the lack of long-term coaching relationships is really hurtful." - Peter Snell

By Kenny Moore, Sports Illustrated

Here's a mystifying bit of track lore you could probably massage into a killer bet in one of those...

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A Dream Comes True

May 24, 1971

It was advertised as the Dream Mile, and though for the contestants it often seemed like the Nightmare Marathon the race lived up to its billing as Marty Liquori held off Jim Ryun on the last turn to win

By Pat Putnam, Sports Illustrated

For the first three-eighths of a Mile, it could have...

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Trials of an Unlonely Miler

October 21, 1968

As the XIX Olympics began, America's best hope in the 1500 meters found himself so besieged that he had to leave the Olympic Village and train on quieter public highways to get ready for his stern ordeal

By Bob Ottum, Sports Illustrated

They were starting to come through the track barricades...

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See You Later, Jim Ryun

July 03, 1967

Sub-54 second final lap yields Mile world record of 3:51.1 and national title for Kansas native in Bakersfield

By Pete Axthelm, Sports Illustrated

Seventeen-year-old Jerry Proctor upset six-time national champion Ralph Boston in the broad jump; Charlie Greene finished second in the 100-yard...

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Sportsman of the Year: 1966

December 19, 1966

Mile star Jim Ryun, 19, the youngest person ever selected as SI's Sportsman

By Sports Illustrated

In its first issue, in August 1954, Sports Illustrated reported the duel of the original 4 minute Milers, Roger Bannister and John Landy, at the British Empire Games in Vancouver. Bannister won...

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A Special Brand of Fame

August 01, 1966

In the week following his record race young Jim Ryun discovers the joys—and hazards—of owning the most treasured mark in all of sport

By Gwilym S. Brown, Sports Illustrated

Young Jim Ryun's hectic life as the world record holder in track's most glamorous event began even while he was spinning...

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A Time to Remember: 3:51.3

July 25, 1966

Leaving the whole world far behind him, Jim Ryun, the 19-year-old durable wonder of Kansas, smashes track's most treasured record—the Mile mark that has eluded American runners for 29 years

By Anita Verschoth, Sports Illustrated

After a few warmup sprints last Sunday on a field next to...

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The Second Fastest Ever

June 12, 1966

"I'd like to see the world record come back to the U.S., but you know everything has to be just right and that doesn't happen too often."

By Gwilym S. Brown, Sports Illustrated

Setting up world record attempts in the Mile run is like handling butterflies. The slightest miscalculation, one...

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Fast Teenagers in Grown-Up Time

July 05, 1965

With tactical cunning and a brilliant burst of speed, 18-year-old Jim Ryun beat the great Peter Snell in a U.S. record 3:55.3 Mile

By Gwilym S. Brown, Sports Illustrated

In San Diego one day last week an 18-year-old boy and a former football linebacker sat down to map out the strategy the boy...

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A Kansas Boy with a Man-Size Task

September 14, 1964

This week in Los Angeles, 135 athletes will be competing for 60 positions on the U.S. Olympic track & field team. Some of them—such as Dyrol Burleson, Bob Schul and Henry Carr—have already clinched a spot on the team, provided they are still in good shape, by virtue of their victories in the...

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