Birthday – June 23, 1940
Who is Wilma Rudolph?
Rudolph was a Track and Field Olympic Athlete who represented the United States. She was also an internationally known record holder and an inspiration to all. This sports icon was hailed as "The World's Fastest Woman" in 1960.
Five Facts about Wilma Rudolph
- She was born in Saint Bethlehem, Tennessee.
- She is the 20th of 22 siblings from her father's two marriages.
Wilma Rudolph had an astounding success when she won 3 gold medals in the same 1956 Summer Olympics. She was the first woman in America to ever experience such triumph. This earned her the title of "The Fastest Woman in the World."
- Rudolph was one of the most inspirational black women in America and overseas. She became a heroine for black female athletes.
- She retired from competitions to teach and coach children, and this is where her influence shined even more.
Inspirational Quotes from Wilma Rudolph
"I was told by doctors that I will not be able ever to walk again. However, my mother told me that I would eventually. I believed her."
"Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us."
"Winning is great, but if you are really going to do something in life, you must learn how to lose. Nobody wins all the time. If you can stand up after a heartbreaking defeat and try again, you are going to be a champion someday."
"I knew I could do whatever I set my mind to do."
"The two words that have never been in my vocabulary is "I can't." I believe in myself more than anything on earth."
Wilma Rudolph Biography
Born on June 23, 1940, Wilma Glodean Rudolph was always surrounded with love and care, crucial to her health. When she was young, she had to endure various childhood illnesses. She was told she would never walk again but ended up being an Olympics Champion in Track and Field.
Husband and Children
Wilma Rudolph had 2 marriages, but both ended in a divorce. Her first husband was William "Willie" Ward whom she met from the North Carolina College track team. This first marriage did not work out, ending in divorce in May 1963.
Rudolph then married Robert Eldridge in 1963 after graduating from TSU. They were married for 17 years but also ended in divorce. Rudolph and Eldridge had four children named Yolanda, Djuanna, Robert Jr., and Xurry.
Wilma Rudolph was homeschooled initially when she was young as she tried to battle and eventually survived bouts of polio, pneumonia, and scarlet fever. She was told she would never walk again.
Rudolph's determination and courage helped restore her health. She began attending school again at seven. As a college scholar at Tennessee State University, she excelled in track.
When she was 16, Rudolph competed in the U.S. Olympic track and field. Her team won the bronze medal with a speed of 44.9 seconds, which was considered as a world record time. This jump started her career in track and field.
Mission and Work
Rudolph was active in competitions, particularly the Olympics from 1956 to 1961. She retired from track and field in 1962. She then went on and earned her degree in TSU and began working in Education. Despite this, she continued her passion for sports.
She worked at community centers within the United States, as well as non-profit organizations that support athletic development for American children. In 1981, she was inaugurated into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame and founded the Wilma Rudolph Foundation, an organization supporting young track and field athletes. She was the 1st woman to receive the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Silver Anniversary Award.
In addition, she became involved in the federal Job Corps program and served as a track specialist for Operation Champion.
On top of all the other roles and commitments Wilma Rudolph engaged in, she also hosted a local T.V. show, was a publicist for Universal Studios, and lit the cauldron to open the Pan American Games in Indianapolis in 1987. In 1987, she became director of DePauw University's women's track program in Indiana. Before she passed away in 1992 due to cancer, Rudolph also became Nashville Baptist Hospital's Vice President.
Wilma Rudolph actively played in track and field for only six (6) years. However, her influence in sports and life inspiration is well known until today. She is remembered for her contributions to youth. Her countless awards and recognitions and being inducted into several women's halls of fame speak highly of this.
It was said that Wilma Rudolph ran so fast she ran straight into the pages of history. Her life story is nothing short of inspirational and probably one of the greatest stories ever told about a girl who was informed she'd never walk again but ended up being the fastest woman in the world.