Wilma Rudolph

An amazing Olympic runner

Who was Wilma Rudolph?

Wilma Rudolph lived and amazing, successful life. Polio, and double pneumonia survivor, she became what some people called, “The fastest person in the world.” She always had perseverance, and never gave up on her dream to be a world renowned athlete, and that's what made her so amazing.

Child life

Wilma Rudolph was born in Saint Bethlehem, Tennessee on June 23rd, 1940, the 20th of 22 siblings. As a young child, she had had Pneumonia twice. Afterwords, polio affected her leg, leaving it crooked. This made her have to wear a knee brace throughout her childhood. After overcoming her disabilities by physical therapy, she realized how much she loved the game of basketball. However, her coach didn't put her in. After 2 boring years of sitting on the bench, she forced her coach to put her in in her first year of high school, and became a basketball star.

Adult Life

Her coach, (Coach Gray) decided to start a girls track team as well, and Wilma didn’t hesitate to get on it. Her used-to-be crooked leg ran faster than nearly all of her teammates. After practicing and practicing, she became an amazing runner. She did many events such as the 200 meter run, the 300 meter run, and 400 meter relays. Word got around about Wilma, and professional coach, Coach temple, invited her to some of the running meets he held at Tennessee State.


In high school, she was accepted to the 1956 Melbourne Olympics at age 16. She won a bronze medal, but she wasn't done yet. She went to the 1960 Rome Olympics a few years later. During this Olympics, she became the first American woman to win 3 gold medals. Even with a twisted ankle! Before the race, she was playing in the sprinklers on a hot day with her teammates, and stepped in a pothole, twisting her ankle, but she still ran! When the sun is shining I can do anything; no mountain is too high, no trouble too difficult to overcome, She said after the wins. The newspapers called her, “The black pearl” or “The black gazelle.” She was overwhelmed by over 200 pieces of fan mail and 10 marriage proposals a week. She got many awards such as the Athlete of the Year award, and The Sullivan award. She was inducted into 4 halls of fame. The black athletes hall of fame, the national track and field hall of fame, the women's sports foundation hall of fame, and the U.S Olympic hall of fame.

A wonderful life

Although she was a big Olympic runner, family still meant the most to her. Two years before her amazing wins in the 1960 Olympics, Wilma had had a baby girl, Yolanda, in July 1958. Her dad had also died soon after the 1960 Olympics. Though the death saddened her, she was glad that he lived to see her be an Olympic star. Wilma Rudolph had many great opportunities after retirement. She got to meet President John F Kennedy, and became a track teacher. Afterwards she married Robert Eldridge, the father of her daughter, and had two more baby girls, and a son. Wilma Rudolph died from brain Cancer on November 12th, 1994 at age 54. Wilma Rudolph changed the image of black athletes forever. Though She died early, she will always be remembered to America.

Get to know Wilma Rudolph!

An amazing woman, remembered to America

Witness some of Wilma's miracles

Wilma Rudolph will always be remembered to America because of her amazing running miracles. Experience some of them for yourself by watching this video. Click on the link below.

Do you know something new?

I hope this flyer helped you to understand more about Wilma Rudolph and her life. I hope you know realize what an amazing woman she was.