Wilma Rudolph was born on June 23rd, 1940. She was born prematurely and wasn't expected to live. She weighed only four-and-a-half pounds. She lived in St. Bethlehem, Tennessee. At the age of 4 she had contracted polio, it's a disease that attacks your nervous system and causes problems in children. She survived the illness, but she couldn't use her left leg. Wilma had to have her legs massaged daily to help her redeem her strength in her left leg.
Wilma Rudolph had to wear a leg brace, but after undergoing 5 years of treatment she removed her leg brace and began to walk. After she had got her leg brace removed she began to play basketball games with her siblings. She also would have races against other children in her neighborhood.
Wilma Rudolph always wanted to play high school basketball. But they never let her on the team until sophomore year. She played at Burt High School. She scored 803 points in 25 games. She had won a new state record.
She began to start running in track meets, sprint was the thing that she was involved in the most. When she was fourteen the women's track coach at Tennessee State University had trained her and inspired her to keep running.
Then as a teenager Wilma finally learned what the Olympics were. She learned fast, in her high school track meets, she rarely lost a race. At the young age of 16 she was able to compete in the Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, and won a bronze medal.
In 1957 Rudolph entered Tennessee State University, hoping on majoring in elementary education. All she did whenever she had time was run. In the 1958 season Wilma was too ill to run. When she came back in 1959 she pulled a muscle.
In the 1960 Olympics Wilma Rudolph won three gold medals. She also tied the world record in 100-meter and she set a new Olympic record in the 200. When she was in Rome, Italy the French called her "La Gazelle." She made an inspiration in history because she overcame her disability amongst the struggles. She made an outstanding performance.
Wilma Rudolph was a celebrity all throughout Europe and America. But in 1964 Rudolph turned down an offer to participate in the 1964 Olympic Games. She retired in 1963, and finished off college. She then became a school teacher and an athletic coach. She had four children after two divorces.
Wilma published an autobiography, Wilma, which got published in 1977. Rudolph helped open and run inner-city sports clinic. She then had found her own organization, the Wilma Rudolph Foundation, it was dedicated to promoting amateur athletes.
Sadly, on November 12th, 1994, she died at her home of a brain tumor. She's a really good example of an inspirational legacy.