Wilma Rudolph

Wilma Rudolph

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Wilma Rudolph was an African-American Olympian. She overcame huge odds as a child to go on and win three gold medals and one bronze in track and field.BeginningsWilma Glodean Rudolph was born on June 23, 1940, in Clarksville, Tennessee. Her father, Ed, worked as a railroad porter and handyman while her mother, Blanche, cooked and cleaned for wealthy white families.Wilma was born prematurely and weighed only 4.5 pounds. Wilma's mother spent several years of nursing her through one illness after another, including measles, mumps, scarlet fever, chicken pox and double pneumonia. The diagnosis was polio, a crippling disease that had no cure.The doctor told Blanche that Wilma would never be able to walk, but Blanche would not just give up. Shortly after that, Wilma decided to become an athlete.Meteoric riseWilma began to play basketball in junior high, and then in high school. During the state basketball tournament, Wilma was spotted by Ed Temple, the Tigerbells women's track team coach at Tennessee State University. Temple invited Wilma to Tennessee State for a summer sports camp, because her high school did not have a track team.Wilma Rudolph competed in the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia, where she won the bronze metal in the 4 by 4 relay, at the age of 16. She took time off from her education to pursue her athletic career, but would eventually return and graduate with a bachelor’s degree in education in 1963.Rudolph appeared at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome and went on to win three Olympic titles: the 100-meter, 200-meter and 4-by-100-meter relay. amateur athlete in 1961.Rudolph married her high school sweetheart, Robert Eldridge, in 1963. They would later divorce.Rudolph posted many accomplishments, one of which was more special to her than the others. Later that night, a banquet was held in her honor; it was the first time in the town’s history that blacks and whites ever gathered.Moving onWhen Rudolph retired from track, she returned to Clarksville. She later moved to Maine and then Indiana to take on coaching roles. She also worked in broadcasting as a sports commentator.In 1967, Vice-President Hubert Humphrey invited Rudolph to take place in “Operation Champ,” an athletic outreach program for children in the inner cities of 16 major urban areas. The foundation provided sports coaching free of charge, and academic assistance as well.Rudolph wrote her autobiography entitled Wilma in 1977. It was later made into a movie for television, and Rudolph was a consultant in its production.Meteoric fallWilma Rudolph died of brain cancer in her home in Brentwood, Tennessee, on November 12, 1994, at the age of 54.

Black History Month: Remembering Wilma Rudolph's Unlikely Journey to Olympic Gold

Wilma Rudolph was once told that she would never walk again. Four years later, she was in the Olympics. Four years after that, she won three gold medals and set a world record in the process.

Such is the improbable story of Rudolph, who became one of the world&aposs most famous athletesꂯter the 1960 Rome Olympics. Here&aposs how Sports Illustrated&aposs Barbara Heilman described her that year:  

A slender 5 feet 11 inches, Wilma Rudolph can command a look of mingled graciousness and hauteur that suggests a duchess but, in a crowd that is one part Skeeter and 5,000 parts people, young men and babies will come to her in 30 seconds. Her manners are of a natural delicacy and sweetness as true as good weather. She tore up Rome, then Greece, England, Holland and Germany. In Cologne it took mounted police to keep back her admirers in Wuppertal, police dogs. In Berlin her public stole her shoes, surrounded her bus (she boarded it in her bare feet) and beat on it with their fists to make her wave. Autograph hunters jostled her wherever she went, and she was deluged with letters, gifts, telegrams and pleas that she stay where she was or come to a dozen cities where she wasn&apost.

Born prematurely as the 20th of 22nd children, Rudolph dealt with a bevy of illnesses as a child, including pneumonia, scarlet fever and polio. She recovered from the first two, but the polio lingered. Because of the racist medical practices of the time period, Rudolph was not granted care in her hometown—her parents had to seek treatment for her at the historically black Meharry Medical College in Nashville, about 50 miles from her native Clarksville.

So every week for two years, Rudolph and her mother would make the 100-mile round-trip pilgrimage in order to rehabilitate her left leg, which, due to the polio, was left disabled. She also received at-home massages four times a day from family members. 

Her treatment at Meharry Medical College (now the Nashville General Hospital at Meharry), along with her family&aposs help, allowed Rudolph to beat polio and walk without a leg brace or an orthopedic shoe by the time she turned 12. 

Three years later, fully recovered from the incapacitating effects of polio, Rudolph was discovered by Tennessee State University&aposs track coach, Ed Temple, when Rudolph was playing for her high school basketball team as a sophomore. Temple took her under her wing. After a year of diligent training, Rudolph qualified for the U.S. Olympic track and field team trials and, eventually, the Olympics themselves.

She only won one bronze medal in the 4x100m in 1956, but after four years of training𠅎ight years removed from polio—Rudolph competed in the event that made her internationally famous: The 1960 Olympics.

There, she won gold medals in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay, becoming the first woman to ever win three gold medals in a single Olympics. She set a world record in the 4x100m relay and set an Olympic record at the 200m. Rudolph would have set a world record in the 100m, too, had it not been wind-aided at 2.75 meters/second, .75 higher than the maximum 2 m/s needed for a tabulated record. 

History-Making Olympic Legend Wilma Rudolph Inspires “The Quickest Kid in Clarksville”

Author Pat Zietlow Miller began her writing career in college as a sports reporter and has since had a fascination with Wilma Rudolph, the three-time Olympic gold medalist whose path to becoming a history-making track star and an American icon is as extraordinary as her many achievements. And it’s the legendary Wilma who inspires The Quickest Kid in Clarksville, Pat’s just released children’s book (age 5-8), which is described as “a timeless story of dreams, determination, and the power of friendship.”

To fully understand the power of the lessons in Pat’s book, you need to know the power of Wilma Rudolph. Before earning the title of “fastest woman in the world” and becoming the first American woman to win three gold medals in one Olympics, there was a time in Wilma’s very early life when her doctors thought she would never walk. But, she said, “My mother told me I would. I believed my mother.” So against all odds, the future sprinter made other plans for herself.

One of 22 children, Wilma was born on June 23, 1940 in St. Bethlehem, Tennessee to a poor family. She was premature, weighing just 4.5 pounds, and spent the bulk of her childhood in bed battling various illnesses including double pneumonia, scarlet fever and polio, which caused temporary loss of movement in her left leg. By age 6, Wilma had to wear metal braces on her legs. That didn’t stop her.

“The triumph can’t be had without the struggle.” – Wilma Rudolph

With the help of her mother and her family, Wilma challenged her constraints and adopted a positive mindset to overcome her paralysis. She began physical therapy to regain strength in her left leg and her older siblings massaged her legs on a daily basis. After five years of treatment, to the shock of her doctors, Wilma removed her leg brace and walked by herself for the first time. Two years later, her brothers set up a basketball hoop in the family yard, and 13-year-old Wilma not only picked up the game… she mastered it.

In high school, Wilma became an all-state player, setting a Tennessee state record of 49 points in one game. Known for her speed on the court, Wilma caught the attention of a lot of people, including a man named Ed Temple, a highly dedicated and unpaid track coach from Tennessee State. He was so impressed that he asked Wilma’s basketball coach to form a girls’ track team so he could groom her to practice with his college team, which Wilma eventually started doing while she was still in high school. Her hard work and determination paid off, once again.

At age 16, Wilma Rudolph made her Olympic debut at the 1956 Melbourne Games as part of the American 4x100m relay team that claimed a bronze medal. But her truly defining moment came four short years later at the 1960 Games in Rome, Italy where she became “the fastest woman in the world” and the first American woman to win three gold medals in one Olympics. Wilma won the 100- and 200-meter races and anchored the U.S. team to victory in the 4x100m relay, breaking three world records in the process.

Her brilliant career ended with her retirement in 1962 and in her post-Olympic years Wilma worked as a track coach at Indiana’s DePauw University and served as a U.S. Goodwill Ambassador to French West Africa. Along the way, she inspired countless young athletes, including Florence Griffith Joyner, a.k.a. track and field champion Flo-Jo, who became the next woman to win three gold medals in one Olympics (1988).

In honor of her tremendous achievements, Wilma was inducted into the Black Athletes Hall of Fame (1973), the National Track and Field Hall of Fame (1974), as well as the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. But, above all else, Wilma considered her greatest accomplishment to be the Wilma Rudolph Foundation, a not-for-profit, community-based amateur sports program she founded.

Tragically, Wilma Rudolph died at age 54 from brain cancer on November 12, 1994. Now twenty-two years later she lives on in the pages of Pat Zietlow Miller’s book to inspire The Quickest Kid in Clarksville… and anyone who reads it.

It’s the day before the big parade. Alta can only think about one thing: Wilma Rudolph, three-time Olympic gold medalist. She’ll be riding on a float tomorrow. See, Alta is the quickest kid in Clarksville, Tennessee, just like Wilma once was.

It doesn’t matter that Alta’s shoes have holes because Wilma came from hard times, too. But what happens when a new girl with shiny new shoes comes along and challenges Alta to a race? Will she still be the quickest kid?

Pat Zietlow Miller’s book is beautifully illustrated by Frank Morrison, a Coretta Scott King Honor Award winner.

Wilma Rudolph

Wilma Glodean Rudolph was and American sprinter, and became a world record holding Olympic champion, and an international sports icon in track and field. She became a role model for black female athletes, and her Olympic successes helped elevate women’s track and field in the United States. During her childhood Rudolph suffered from several illnesses, including pneumonia, scarlet fever and contracted infantile paralysis (caused by the poliovirus) at the age of five. As stated by Women’s History , her Doctor told her she would never walk again, however her mother told her she would. Rudolph believed her mother who made weekly bus trips to Nashville (5o miles from where they lived) for treatments to help Rudolph regain the use of her leg. She also received at home massage treatments – four times a day – from family members and wore an orthopedic show to support her foot. She was physically disabled for most of her life, wearing a leg brace until she was twelve years old, however she eventually overcame polio and learned to walk without a leg brace or orthopedic shoe for support.

After being homeschooled, due to her frequent illnesses, in 1947, Rudolph attended second grade at Cobb Elementary School, in Clarksville. She went on to attend, Clarksville’s – all black – Burt High School, where she excelled in basketball and track. In her sophomore year, she scored 803 points, and set a new record for the high school girls’ basketball team. At the age of fourteen she attracted the attention of, Ed Temple: the women’s track coach at Tennessee State University (TSU). Temple then invited Rudolph to join his summer training program at Tennessee State. After attending the camp, Rudolph won all nine events she entered at an Amateur Athletic Union track meet. Under Temple’s guidance Rudolph continued to train regularly at Tennessee State University, while still a high school student. She raced at amateur athletic events with TSU’S women’s track team, known as the Tigerbelles.

In 1956, at the age of sixteen, Rudolph attended the United Stated Olympic track and field team trials in Seattle, Washington, and qualified to compete in the 200-meter individual event. Although she didn’t win the race, she had the opportunity to run third leg of the 4 x 100-meter relay, and the TSU Tigerbelles won the bronze medal, matching the world record time of 44.9 seconds.

Through out her career Rudolph won three gold medals and broke at least three world records. She became the first African American woman to win three gold medals in a single Olympiad. The first African American woman to win a gold medal in the 100-meter race (since Helen Stephen’s win in the 1936 Summer Olympics), and she set a new Olympic record of 23.2 seconds in the opening heat. She was recognized as the fastest woman in history, nicknamed “La Gazzella Nera” – The Black Gazelle – by the Italians, and “La Perle Noire” – The Black Pearl – by the French.

In 1962 Rudolph retired and went on to continue her education at Tennessee State, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. According to Wikipedia , she taught as a second-grade teacher at Cobb Elementary School, coached track at Burt High School, and published an autobiography: Wilma: The Story of Wilma Rudolph.

In 1981, Rudolph established and led the Wilma Rudolph Foundation, joined DePauw University, went on to host a local television show in Indianapolis, was a publicist for Universal Studios, a television sports commentator for ABC sports during the 1984 Summer Olympics, and lit the cauldron to open the Pan American Games in Indianapolis.

Roots of Fight debuts Women's History Month capsule celebrating Olympic sprinter Wilma Rudolph

There's no denying the impact track and field star Wilma Rudolph had on the sport and the advancement of Black women in athletics. Afflicted with polio as a child, the Tennessee native didn’t learn to walk until she was six years old and wore a leg brace until the age of 12. By the time she was 16, Rudolph took home the bronze medal at the 1956 Summer Olympic games. By the time she was 20, Rudolph had three gold medals to her name from the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. Because of her amazing athleticism, the sprinter earned nicknames such as "The Black Tornado," "The Flash," and "The Black Gazelle" to honor her blazing fast speed and resilience.

As a part of their Women's History Month celebrations, on Tuesday athleisure brand Roots Of Fight dropped a capsule paying homage to Rudolph and other iconic Black women in the civil rights and popular culture like Maya Angelou and Rosa Parks.

A senior team filled with women, managing partner Natalie Dimbleby explained to Yahoo Sports why it's so important to bring attention to more female icons who shaped history forever.

"We’re fortunate to live in a time and place where women's issues are discussed, and we have opportunities small and large to try to remedy what has been wrong for a long time," Dimbleby said. "As a company, one of our strengths is that our senior leadership team has proudly achieved gender parity. We know the importance of representation, and the need to highlight women’s contributions—historically overlooked and under-celebrated. It was really important to our team that our company begin to celebrate exceptional women, and that we do our part to tell more herstory.

"Roots of Fight is honored to spotlight these three powerful women: Wilma Rudolph, Maya Angelou, and Rosa Parks. Each persisted in her own way. Through hardship and against odds. As a brand, that persistence is what we seek to celebrate and honor—those who persevered, overcame hardship, achieved, and left the world a little better for it. I couldn’t be more honored that our company has been entrusted to tell their stories."

Styles include shirts and sweatshirts splashed with Rudolph, Angelou and Parks' name and image. We linked a few of our favorites below, but you can shop the entire collection at Roots of Fight.


"I heard a lot of positive comments from students and teachers. The program was a perfect alignment with Black History Month and entering into Women's History Month, combined with disability awareness and how one can persevere. The students loved the format of acting out Wilma's full life, and the actress' ability to hold the attention of students was amazing. The large window of time you gave us to access the video was very helpful. This permitted all the teachers the ability to view the program within their grade level schedule. Thank you for this opportunity to bring a little more normal assembly option to our students, while maintaining a COVID safe approach, and for your overall communication leading up to the assembly dates. We will surely be interested in some additional options for next year!"
--Principal, Storm School, Batavia, regarding "Wilma Rudolph"

Historical Perspectives for Children

"Thank you for the opportunity to see the Wilma Rudolph program on Friday, April 23, 2021. The program was inspirational and well made. Personally, I related to it. It helped me realize how much more I could do with the right mindset and how powerful that mindset can be. I will strive to achieve that mindset. "

"I thought it was very informational and I learned so much from it. Wilma Rudolph is a great inspiration, and I am proud of her for overcoming so many obstacles. The program will help me apply the concept of never giving up to my life. I greatly appreciate the ability to learn from this."

"I learned a lot about her history and the history around her in that time period and the struggles of people of color. Wilma Rudolph is an inspiration to me and many of my peers, as she went from not being able to walk to the fastest woman in the world, and she used what she accomplished to move her hometown and many other places closer to equal rights for everybody. Thank you again for this amazing opportunity!"
--Seventh Grade Students, River Trails Middle School, Mt. Prospect

For More Information

Coffey, Wayne. Wilma Rudolph. Woodbridge, CT: Blackbirch Press, 1993.

Flanagan, Alice K. Wilma Rudolph: Athlete and Educator. Chicago: Ferguson, 2000.

Krull, Kathleen. Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman. San Diego: Harcourt Brace, 1996.

Ruth, Amy. Wilma Rudolph. Minneapolis: Lerner, 2000.

Sherrow, Victoria. Wilma Rudolph: Olympic Champion. New York: Chelsea House, 1995.

Remembering Wilma Rudolph, the “Queen of the Olympics”

Scott N. Brooks is the Director of Research at the Global Sport Institute at Arizona State University. He is the author of Black Men Can&rsquot Shoot (University of Chicago Press, 2009). Aram Goudsouzian is Professor of History at the University of Memphis. His books include King of the Court: Bill Russell and the Basketball Revolution (University of California Press, 2010).

Vilma! Vilma! Vilma! On September 8, 1960, Rome&rsquos Stadio Olimpico rumbled with exuberant cheers as the crowd celebrated the woman known as &ldquothe Tennessee Tornado&rdquo and &ldquothe Chattanooga Choo-Choo.&rdquo The Italian press called her &ldquothe Black Pearl.&rdquo The French dubbed her &ldquothe Black Gazelle.&rdquo The Russians considered her &ldquothe Queen of the Olympics.&rdquo

The woman was Wilma Rudolph. Earlier in these Olympic Games, she won the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes. Then, in the 400-meter relay, she fumbled the baton on the exchange, only to overtake West Germany&rsquos Jutta Heine during a dramatic anchor-leg comeback. Sixty years ago this month, she became the first American woman to win three gold medals in one Olympic Games.

The significance of Rudolph&rsquos achievement transcends the world of sports. Because of her childhood disability, she was cast as an exemplar of American pluck. Because of her gold medals, she was a powerful weapon in a cultural Cold War. Because of her appealing style, she became a darling of the mainstream press, challenging numerous stereotypes of Black womanhood.

It is, perhaps, too easy to praise Rudolph as an individual&mdashsomeone with &ldquoinner stuff&rdquo or the heart of a champion. But if we place her into wider social context, we appreciate her as a representative of tangled struggles. She was an athlete, a woman, a poor country girl from Clarksville, Tennessee, and she was Black.

Rudolph captured the world&rsquos fancy by negotiating a delicate balance. Sidestepping threats to masculine power, she vowed to never race men. She wore skirts and high heels. Reporters called her &ldquowillowy&rdquo and &ldquovery feminine.&rdquo The pop culture stereotypes of Black women consisted of bossy &ldquoSapphires,&rdquo beefy &ldquoMammies,&rdquo and bewitching &ldquoJezebels.&rdquo Rudolph, by contrast, wore her athletic grace with a coat of respectability.

In his book Negro Firsts in Sports, which highlighted Black athletes as ambassadors of racial progress, A.S. &ldquoDoc&rdquo Young celebrated Rudolph as &ldquothe first Negro woman to draw worldwide praise for her beauty.&rdquo This, he added, &ldquois indisputable proof that &lsquothings are getting better&rsquo for Negroes!&rdquo

But the barriers to racial progress stayed high, even for celebrities such as Rudolph. In May 1963, Rudolph joined 300 activists seeking service at a segregated drive-in restaurant in Clarksville. They returned the next day, but the restaurant had locked up. A mob of white youths heckled them. &ldquoI just can&rsquot believe it,&rdquo said Rudolph, &ldquoremember the reception I had here in 1960?&rdquo

Feature 02 Sep 2020

In a sport where tales of triumph over adversity are not uncommon, Wilma Rudolph&rsquos journey to sporting stardom stands out as one of the most astonishing.

In fact, her life story is reflected in her racing style: a sluggish start before finding her stride and then running into the record books.

The pinnacle of her athletics career &ndash her golden triple at the Olympic Games in Rome &ndash began with her 100m triumph on 2 September 1960, exactly 60 years ago today. But the odds had been stacked against Rudolph for almost all of her 20 years leading up to that moment.

Born prematurely as the 20th of 22 siblings, Rudolph suffered from pneumonia, scarlet fever and polio as a child, the latter of which left her physically disabled. Under the laws of segregation in the US at that time, Rudolph was unable to get treatment for her weakened leg at her local hospital, so each week Rudolph and her mother would make the 100-mile round trip by bus to Nashville where she was able to get treatment. That, along with home massages four times a day from family members and the use of orthotics, helped Rudolph to overcome the debilitating effects of polio, and at the age of nine she was finally able to walk without a leg brace.

&ldquoMy doctor told me I would never walk again,&rdquo she once said. &ldquoMy mother told me I would. I believed my mother.&rdquo

Feeling as though she had some making up to do, Rudolph immersed herself in sports and took up basketball and athletics at high school. She excelled at both, and at the age of 16 she qualified to represent the USA in the 200m and 4x100m at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne. Rudolph missed making the 200m semifinals by one place, but two days later her Olympic experience ended on a high when she anchored the US team to a bronze medal in the 4x100m.

Rudolph became pregnant during her final year of high school, but she also continued to pursue her academic and sporting goals. She enrolled at Tennessee State University just a few weeks after her daughter, Yolanda, was born in 1958. Rudolph returned to action on the track one year later, winning the US 100m title along with Pan-American gold (4x100m) and silver (100m).

But it was at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome where Rudolph hit the big time.

Her performances at that year&rsquos US Olympic Trials, where she won the sprint double, and her 200m world record of 22.9 at the AAU Championships &ndash becoming the first woman in history to break 23 seconds for the distance &ndash had hinted that something special would be on the cards in the Italian capital.

Rudolph arrived in Rome in the form of her life, but fate nearly tripped her up again when she stepped in a hole near the practice track and twisted her ankle, just one day before her competition began. Despite that, she breezed through the heats and quarterfinals, clocking the fastest times in both rounds. Defending champion Betty Cuthbert, meanwhile, was hampered by a leg injury and didn&rsquot make it beyond the quarterfinals.

The next day, 2 September, Rudolph lined up for her semifinal at 3:00pm and booked her spot in the Olympic final by charging to a world-record-equalling 11.3 (11.41 electric). The final was scheduled to take place just 80 minutes later, but Rudolph was so relaxed that she fell asleep on a massage table less than half an hour before the final.

She soon got back into race mode, though, and headed back out on to the track. As was her style, the long-limbed Rudolph wasn&rsquot the fastest out of the blocks, but once she got into her stride there was simply no catching her.

Rudolph won by the considerable margin of 0.25, stopping the clock at 11.0 (11.18 electric) &ndash a time that would have smashed the world record had it not been for the 2.8m/s following wind. She also became the first US woman in 24 years to win the Olympic 100m title, but she was only a third of a way to achieving her goal for the Games.

She was back in action the next day for the heats of the 200m and sped to an Olympic record of 23.30. Strong headwinds prevented her from going faster in the semifinal and final, but she went on to take the gold medal with an even bigger margin than in the shorter event.

&ldquoThe farther I ran, the faster I became,&rdquo she said.

She capped her Rome campaign by taking a third gold medal in the 4x100m, having clocked a world record of 44.4 in the heats. Not only did she cement her status as the fastest woman in the world, she also became the first US woman to win three gold medals at a single Olympic Games.

&ldquoAfter the playing of &lsquoThe Star-Spangled Banner&rsquo, I came away from the victory stand and I was mobbed,&rdquo she wrote in her autobiography. &ldquoPeople were jumping all over me, putting microphones into my face, pounding my back, and I couldn't believe it.&rdquo

With Rome being the first Olympics broadcast live to an international audience, Rudolph emerged from the Games as a global sporting star and one of the most highly visible black women in America, instantly becoming a role model for the next generation.

Still aged just 20 at the time, she used her newfound platform to great effect and, in her soft-spoken gracious manner, became a pioneer for civil rights and women&rsquos rights.

When she returned from Rome, the governor of Tennessee had organised a segregated home-coming celebration, but Rudolph refused to attend. The plans for the celebration were then changed and Rudolph&rsquos parade became the first integrated event in her hometown.

She continued competing internationally for two more years, and even set world records at 100m, 4x100m and 200 yards indoors, but she retired at the end of 1962. &ldquoIf I won two gold medals (at the next Olympics), there would be something lacking,&rdquo she said at the time. &ldquoI'll stick with the glory I've already won, like Jesse Owens did in 1936.&rdquo

Her proudest achievement, though, came in 1981 when she set up the Wilma Rudolph Foundation. The non-profit organisation, based in Indiana, trains youth athletes and sends tutors to schools with books on American heroes.

&ldquoI tell them that the most important aspect is to be yourself and have confidence in yourself,&rdquo she said. &ldquoI remind them the triumph can't be had without the struggle.&rdquo

And Rudolph, who overcame numerous obstacles to become the fastest woman in the world, knows that all too well.

&ldquo&rsquoI can&rsquot&rsquo are two words that have never been in my vocabulary,&rdquo said Rudolph, who died from brain cancer in 1994 at the age of 54. &ldquoI believe in me more than anything in this world.&rdquo

Rudolph Lived A Quiet Life After The Olympics, But Will Always Be Remembered

Unlike many current athletes, Rudolph did not profit off of her fame. Instead, in 1962, at the peak of her running career, she retired. She became a second grade teacher and a track coach. She also created a nonprofit organization to help underprivileged kids to succeed in sports. She published an autobiography, Wilma, in 1977. In 1994, she died from brain cancer, but her legacy of courage and strength lives on.

Wilma Rudolph was inducted into four different halls of fame and received several awards. In 1996, an award in her name, the Wilma Rudolph Courage Award for best Women Athletes, was given to Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

Watch the video: Wilma Rudolphs Incredible Career. Olympic Records