Wilma Rudolph

by Emily from Jericho

Wilma Rudolph overcame enormous barriers in her life, and in turn inspires thousands. Born small and sickly, Wilma had slim chances of survival from the start. Hopes plummeted further when the petite African-American girl developed crippling polio at the age of four. Determined to defeat her limitations, Wilma worked though the harsh pain that the prescribed leg-exercises brought. Eventually, she built up enough strength to walk with a steel brace. A restrictive brace could hardly hold my hero down for long, though. Wilma persistently accomplished her exercises and gathered the confidence to walk without it. Amazingly, Wilma shipped the brace back to the hospital at the age of twelve. Though this was an amazing and inspiring accomplishment in itself, she did not stop there.

Despite the agony of the exercises, Wilma continued doing them every day. Her diligence paid off when she caught the eye of a track and field coach. He ultimately helped Wilma receive a full athletic scholarship to Tennessee State University. Rudolph, of all people, knew how to work hard. As a result, she found herself preparing for the Olympics. This champion won two gold metals in the 100 and 200-meter races, and surprisingly won a third in the 400-meter relay. The weak, little girl with polio had made history – she became the first American to win three gold metals at a single Olympics. Publicly, America named Wilma “the fastest woman in the world.”

Even the most tragic obstacles could not stop Wilma, which makes her an excellent hero. Although the exercises she had to complete doubtless discouraged and excruciated her, Wilma refused to feel self-pity. My hero could have become jealous or angry in the midst of her condition. Instead, she built character by rising to the occasion and working harder. Though I do not have challenges as dramatic as Wilma, her story teaches me that will power, hard work, and self- discipline can cause someone to exceed all expectations. Through incredible struggles, Wilma Rudolph rose above her circumstances and motivates me to do the same.

Page created on 11/29/2007 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 11/29/2007 12:00:00 AM

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