Overcoming all odds to triumph

Overcoming all odds to triumph

Golden Heroes

Wilma Rudolph’s battles with myriad health issues might not seem as serious as that of Lance Armstrong in nature but the American sprinter’s run to glory was no less tedious.

Wilma Rudolph... true grit.

The star of the Rome Olympics in 1960, when she won three gold medals, Rudolph’s childhood was all about survival.

The 20th of the 22 siblings was born pre-mature and contracted polio when four. It took nearly eight years of regular medical attention for Rudolph to completely overcome the ailment, though at the beginning people even wondered if she would ever be able to walk let alone run. In the meantime she had survived a bout of scarlet fever, chickenpox and measles.

When Rudolph was 13, she got involved in organised sports at school, including basketball and track. Soon she was running and winning races.

She was invited to a training camp at Tennessee State University by coach Ed Temple, who coached numerous track and field athletes and became Rudolph’s most important professional influence.
In 1956, she participated in the Melbourne Olympic Games. She lost the 200M race, but her relay team took home the bronze medal. This was the beginning of the bigger things to come. In 1958, she joined Tennessee State University and became a member of Temple's ‘Tigerbelles’ track team.

In 1960, she set a world record for the 200M dash during the Olympic trials. Then during the Olympic games in Rome, she became the first American woman to win three gold medals in the 100M, 200M dash and the 4x100M relay.

On Nov 12, 1994, Rudolph died of brain tumor aged 54 but she will always be remembered for her determination to overcome her physical frailties.

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