Wilma Rudolph

by Baylee from Bentonville, Arkansas

The incomparable Wilma Rudolph (
The incomparable Wilma Rudolph (

Upon reading the biography of Wilma Rudolph, I became constantly amazed about how hard some of the aspects of her life had been. “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,” she once said. By all means she achieved greatness in all that she did. She was courageous, she was persistent and never gave up, and she wasn’t afraid to step up to the plate and win big.

For Wilma Rudolph winning big meant having a lot of courage doing it. As a four year old she was diagnosed with a paralyzing disease called polio. During this time period, it was common and could not be cured. The doctor informed her mom she would never be able to walk again, but she and her mother wanted her to be able to walk again. So, over the next two years she went through therapy every week to get treated for her disease. First, she had to wear braces on her legs. Then, later, she wore these special high heeled shoes to walk. She would also wear them to play basketball with her brothers. One day, her mom found her shooting a basketball alone without her special shoes. This shows that Wilma had great courage, but it didn’t stop there, she continued to show this throughout her life. As a 16 year old she entered the Melbourne, Australia Olympics and won the bronze medal in the 4x400 relay. Later in life, she competed in the Olympics in Rome, Italy. During these games, she won two gold medals, one for the 100-meter race, and one for the 200-meter race in which she sprained her ankle. Even though her ankle was injured she ran her final race, the 400-meter relay and won gold for her team as an anchor!

Being persistent was another one of Wilma’s keys to success. Throughout her life she never settled for anything less than best. She was always determined to be on top. I believe that’s what made her life such a success story. I think her upbringing influenced her life also. When her mother heard that she wasn’t going to walk again, she wasn’t about to let her baby give up. For the first three years of her basketball career she sat the bench. But that didn’t stop Wilma, she worked at it and she started as a sophomore guard for the high school varsity basketball team.

Her life was full of great achievement. She won numerous medals in the Rome Olympic Games. These include bronze medal in the 400-meter relay, gold medal in 100-meter race, gold medal in the 200-meter race, and gold in 400-meter relay. She also made a foundation for kids as an adult. This foundation is to teach kids about good discipline and hard work which she used to become a successful athlete as a whole. Even after her death, her accomplishments still influence others.

She is a hero and a woman who will be known forever because she had what it took. Wilma was persistent, courageous, and she was never afraid to step up to the plate. To me that’s what it takes to be one heck of a hero.

Page created on 5/7/2007 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 5/7/2007 12:00:00 AM

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