March 2nd, 2017: Wilma Rudolph


Wilma Rudolph had a rough childhood.  When she was born she weighed only 4.5 pounds, and she contracted polio which left her with infantile paralysis.  She had to wear braces on her legs until she was eleven years old, and was told she may never walk.  Additionally, by the time she was twelve, she had also suffered through scarlet fever.  To make up for all the time she spent in a brace struggling to walk, Rudolph took up running and basketball.  By the time she was 16 she was ready to go to the 1956 olympics in Australia where she earned a bronze medal in 4 x 100m relay.  She came back for the 1960 olympics in Rome and won three gold medals for the 4 x 100m relay, and the 100m and 200m dash.  Even though it was 110 degrees, Rudolph ran the 100m dash in only 11 seconds and the 200 in 23.2.  She was the fourth woman to ever claim gold in both the 100m and the 200m dash and at the time, she set record speeds for both.  These accomplishments earned her the nickname, “the fastest woman in history”.  Her athletic prowess and her inspiring background, led her to be inducted into multiple halls of fame including the U.S Olympic Hall of Fame, the National Women’s Hall of Fame, and the National Black Sports and Entertainment Hall of Fame.  Unfortunately, in 1994, Rudolph was diagnosed with, and died of a brain tumor and throat cancer.  On the day she died, all around her home state, Tennessee, the state flag flew at half-mast to mourn her death.


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