Who was Wilma Rudolph?
Wilma Rudolph was a U.S. athlete, teacher, and hero. She was born
on June 23, 1940, in Clarksville, Tennessee. She had 21 brothers
As a child, Wilma was sick
with chicken pox, measles, mumps, scarlet fever, double pneumonia,
and polio. Polio was very severe. Most children who contracted
polio either died or would never walk again. Wilma was determined
to walk and continued to exercise her paralyzed left leg. By age
six, Wilma was fitted with a heavy steal brace to allow her to
walk. One day, Wilma took off her brace and walked on her own.
By age twelve, Wilma could walk without her brace, and she even
mailed her brace back to the hospital where she received it.
In high school, Wilma became
a basketball star and led her team to the Tennessee State Championships.
Although her team lost, she captured the attention of Ed Temple,
the Tennessee State University track and field coach. Wilma was
given a full athletic scholarship to Tennessee State University.
In 1956, Wilma represented
the United States at the Summer Olympic Games in Melbourne. She
won a bronze medal for the 4 x 100 meter relay race. In 1960,
Wilma again represented the United States at the Summer Olympic
Games in Rome. She won gold medals in the 100 meter dash, 200
meter dash, and the 4 x 100 meter relay race. Did
you know this was the first time a woman had ever won
3 Gold Medals in a single Olympic Game? On her return home, Clarksville
threw a parade for Wilma, and it was the first integrated event
After athletics, Wilma was
a teacher, coach, and mother of four children. She served as a
U.S. Goodwill Ambassador and started the Wilma Rudolph Foundation
to inspire young athletes. Wilma Rudolph died on November 12,
1994, in her home in Nashville, Tennessee.
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