Wilma Glodean Rudolph was born on June 23rd, 1940. She is one of 22 children!
As a child, Wilma survived bouts of polio and scarlet fever. Her illness eventually led her to have to wear a brace on her leg, in which doctors told her that she could never walk again.
The natural athlete in Wilma kept removing her leg brace and she began to train herself to hop on one leg. At 11-years-old, Wilma’s mother discovered her daughter outside playing basketball. In high school, she was an All-American in the sport.
By chance, Wilma met a college coach which led her to the new sport. She competed on a collegiate level and went to the Olympic games in 1956 where she won a bronze medal.
Just four years later, Wilma went on to the 1960 Olympic games where she became recognized as one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century for breaking three records and won three gold medals.
Rudolph became the first African American woman to win three gold medals in track and field at the same Olympic game!
Her performance at the Olympics earned her the title of being “The fastest Woman in the World.”
Wilma Rudolph passed away on November 12th, 1994 of a brain tumor.
She is a US Olympic Hall of Famer, the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year in 1961, the first woman to receive the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Silver Anniversary Award, and the dormitory at Tennessee State University is named in her honor.
“The triumph can’t be had without the struggle.” – Wilma Rudolph
Information obtained from Women’s History