Wilma Rudolph American Track and Field Sprinter

Younger Years

Wilma, the 20th of 22 children, was born on June 23, 1940 and weighed only 4.5 pounds. As a child she suffered from infantile paralysis, which caused her to wear a leg brace and supportive orthopedic shoe until the age of eleven. At age 13, Rudolph began playing basketball at her high school and was noticed by Ed Temple, the track and field coach for Tennessee State. After spending summers training with Temple, Wilma made the U.S. Olympic Team at the age of 16. Two years later, she began working on her degree while on a full track scholarship to Tennessee State.

Track and Field Achievements

1956 - Won bronze medal in the 4 x 100 meter relay.

1960 - Won three gold medals in the 100 meter dash, the 200 meter dash (world record) and the 4 x 100 meter relay.

Life Off the Track

In 1963, Wilma left the sport of track and field, at the height of her career, to become an elementary school teacher. She married her high school sweetheart, in the same year, and they went on to have 4 children together. Rudolph eventually left the classroom to run a community center and travel around the United States.

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