Thursday, February 6, 2014

Black History Focus: Wilma Rudolph

With the opening of the Olympic Games, my Black History focus is on Wilma Rudolph.

Wilma Rudolph was born on June 23, 1940 in Clarksville, Tennessee. Wilma was born prematurely and weighed only 4.5 pounds. At first, Wilma was tutored at home by her family because she was disabled. She suffered from measles, mumps, scarlet fever, chicken pox, double pneumonia, and Polio. After receiving physical therapy exercises at home, she progress from wearing braces to crutches, and then corrective shoes. 

Wilma began school at the age of seven. By age 12 she could walk normally and decided to become an athlete. She joined the basketball team in Junior High. During the state basketball tournament, she was spotted by Ed Temple, the coach for the women's track team at Tennessee State University. Coach Temple invited Wilma to Tennessee State for a summer sports camp. After graduating from high school, Wilma received a full scholarship to Tennessee State. She received a Bachelor's degree in 1963. 

At the Olympic Games in 1956 at the age of 16, Wilma won a bronze medal in the 4x4 relay. On September 7th, 1960, in Rome, Wilma became the first American woman to win 3 gold medals in the Olympics. She won the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash, and ran the anchor on the 400-meter relay team. In 1961, she was awarded the James E. Sullivan Award for Good Sportsmanship. By 1983 she made it into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.

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