Wilma Rudolph Facts

Wilma Rudolph Facts
Wilma Rudolph was an American sprinter who became a record-holding Olympic champion. She was born Wilma Glodean Rudolph on June 23, 1940 in Saint Bethlehem, Tennessee, in the segregated south, to Ed and Blanche. She was the 20th of 22 children from her father's two wives. Wilma had pneumonia and scarlet fever as a child, then polio which caused her to leave strength in her left foot and leg. Because of this she was disabled for most of her early years. By the time she was 12 she had overcome the effects of polio and no longer required a brace or orthopedic shoe. She was first introduced to sports at Bert High School, and began playing basketball, and then track.
Interesting Wilma Rudolph Facts:
Tennessee State's track and field coach Ed Temple spotted Wilma while playing basketball for her high school team. He asked her to join the summer training program and she did. She continued to train with Temple's guidance through the rest of her time in high school.
At the age of 16 Wilma qualified for the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. She was the U.S. team's youngest member, and won a bronze medal in the 4 x 100 meter relay, along with Margaret Matthews, Mae Faggs, and Isabelle Daniels.
Wilma Rudolph enrolled at Tennessee State in 1958, enabling her to continue having Temple as her coach.
Wilma competed at the 1959 Pan American Games and won a silver medal in the 100 meter individual event. She also won gold at the 4 x 100 meter relay.
In 1959 Wilma Rudolph won the 100 meter title at the AAU and was able to maintain her title for four years. She also won three indoor AAU titles throughout her athletic career.
Wilma competed at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Italy. She won three gold medals: the 4 x 100 meter relay, 100 meter sprint, and 200 meter sprint.
Wilma Rudolph was the first African American female athlete to win three Olympic gold medals in one Olympiad.
Because of her Olympic record of 23.2 seconds in the opening heat of the 200 meter, Wilma was considered to be 'The Tornado - the fastest woman on earth'.
Wilma Rudolph was applauded for her athletic abilities and accomplishments and also for her poise and beauty in the media.
When Wilma returned to Clarksville after the 1960s Olympics they held a day of festivities in her honor, including a parade and banquet. She insisted it was to be fully integrated and 1,100 people attended the banquet.
A documentary was made in 1961titled 'Wilma Rudolph: Olympic Champion'.
After retiring from track competition Wilma focused on teaching and coaching.
Wilma's autobiography was published in 1977 titled 'Wilma: The Story of Wilma Rudolph'. More than 21 books about Wilma have now been published.
Wilma married and divorced twice. She had four children.
Wilma worked as a TV sports commentator for the 1984 Summer Olympics.
Wilma was diagnosed with brain cancer in 1994. She also had throat cancer. She died on November 12, 1994. She was 54.


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