Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

One of the World’s Greatest Female Athletes – Wilma Rudolph

Wilma Rudolph a legend in track & field

World renowned for her accomplishments in track & field, Wilma Rudolph had to overcome life threatening adversity from childhood to become one of the best athletes in the world.

Born in Clarksville, Tennessee, Rudolph was the 20th child of 22 children born into this poor family. 

Rudolph nearly died during childbirth as she was less than 5 pounds and her mother was not allowed in a white hospital.  During her early years she was crippled and needed to be tutored at home. 

In 1947 the schools in the South were still segregated and black and white students had to attend separate schools.

During her high school years she became more noted for her basketball skills where she set state records in scoring and led her team to the state championships.  She also became a track star and was invited to participate in the 1956 Olympic Games at the age of 16 winning a bronze medal in the 4×4 relay.

Rudolph managed to escape the racial inequities of the period and emerged with a full scholarship to Tennessee State University receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in education in 1963.

On September 7th, 1960, in Rome, Rudolph 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. 

This achievement led her to become one of the most celebrated female athletes of all time.

Rudolph died on November 12, 1994 at the age of 54 of brain cancer at her home in Nashville, Tennessee. 

She is one of the most inspirational stories of a person that overcame adversity to achieve to her fullest potential.  You may be gone Wilma, but you will always be remember!


August 15, 2010 Posted by | Profiles | , , | 1 Comment