Wilma Rudolph was an Olympic champion sprinter from the United States. Wilma Glodean Rudolph was born on June 23, 1940, in Saint Bethlehem, Tennessee, to parents Ed and Blanche. She was the twentieth of her father’s two wives’ 22 children. Wilma had pneumonia and scarlet fever as a child, followed by polio, which caused her left foot and leg to lose strength. As a result, she was disabled for the majority of her childhood. She had overcome the effects of polio by the age of 12 and no longer needed a brace or orthopedic shoe. At Bert High School, she was introduced to sports and began playing basketball and then track.
Interesting facts about Wilma Rudolph:
Ed Temple, Tennessee State’s track and field coach, noticed Wilma while she was playing basketball for her high school team. He invited her to participate in the summer training program, and she agreed. She continued to train under Temple’s supervision for the remainder of her high school career.
Wilma qualified for the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, at the age of 16. She was the team’s youngest member, and she and Margaret Matthews, Mae Faggs, and Isabelle Daniels won bronze in the 4 x 100 meter relay.
Wilma Rudolph enrolled at Tennessee State in 1958, allowing her to continue working with Temple.
Wilma won a silver medal in the 100 meter individual event at the 1959 Pan American Games. She also took gold in the 4 x 100m relay.
Wilma Rudolph won the AAU 100-meter title in 1959 and held it for the next four years. Throughout her athletic career, she also won three indoor AAU championships.
Wilma competed in the Summer Olympics in Rome, Italy in 1960. She took gold in three events: the 4 x 100 meter relay, the 100 meter sprint, and the 200 meter sprint.
Wilma Rudolph became the first African American female athlete to win three Olympic gold medals in a single Games.
Wilma was dubbed “The Tornado – the Fastest Woman on Earth” due to her Olympic record of 23.2 seconds in the opening heat of the 200 meter.
Wilma Rudolph was praised for her athletic abilities and achievements, as well as her poise and beauty in public.
When Wilma returned to Clarksville after the 1960s Olympics, she was honored with a day of festivities that included a parade and a banquet. She insisted on full integration, and 1100 people attended the banquet.
In 1961, a documentary titled ‘Wilma Rudolph: Olympic Champion’ was produced.
Wilma turned to teaching and coaching after retiring from track and field.
Wilma Rudolph’s autobiography, titled ‘Wilma: The Story of Wilma Rudolph,’ was published in 1977. Wilma has been the subject of more than 21 books.
Wilma had two marriages and two divorces. She had four kids.
Wilma worked as a sports commentator on television during the 1984 Summer Olympics.
How did Wilma Rudolph die? In 1994, Wilma was diagnosed with brain cancer. She was also suffering from throat cancer. She passed away on November 12, 1994. She was 54 years old.