Wilma Rudolph

by Monica from Toronto, Canada

A hero can be described as an amazing person who saves the world in their own ways or they can be anybody we know. Wilma Rudolph fits the perfect description of some kind of hero. She went against what everybody said and followed what she and her supportive mother believed in. So here is the short biography of my hero, Wilma Rudolph.

Ordinary Person:

Wilma Glodean Rudolph was born June 24, 1940. She was born into a poor family in Clarksville, Tennessee, where she lived with her parents and other siblings. She went to an all-black school because back then discrimination was still very alive. She had a lot of dedication as a child. Unlike anyone, she went for what she wanted. In junior high, she was on the basketball team but only played in her sophomore year and became lead scorer on her team. Wilma had four children and married Robert Eldridge in 1963. They later then got divorced.

Extraordinary Circumstances:

Wilma was given many obstacles to overcome. Wilma was born prematurely and because of her skin colour she could not get the proper care she needed as a premature baby. Her mother had to end up nursing her one illness after another. This was only the beginning for what was yet to come for this courageous child. The doctors then told Wilma that she was diagnosed with polio, a disease that causes muscle weakness or paralysis. Sadly, doctors predicted that Wilma would never be able to walk again. Wilma was devastated by what she had found out but her mother had nothing but hope for her daughter and told her daughter that she was going to walk again. A young Wilma believed in, of course, the person most close to her and was motivated to get better and overcome her disease. Until then, she had to wear a metal brace on her leg to help her walk. At the age of 12 she no longer needed the leg brace and could walk perfectly fine. It was at that moment she wanted to be an athlete. She trained and trained and then was finally discovered by a track and field coach while playing a basketball game on her home court. In 1960 she became the world’s fastest woman in the world, winning gold for all three of her events.

Odds Stacked Against Her:

Wilma had quite a few odds stacked against her. Since she was the 20th out of 22 siblings it was hard for her to get the care she needed for her illness. She had to be cared for the most but with 21 other kids it was indeed very hard on her mother, too. Also, because she was dark skinned, in her time discrimination was still very much alive and she was excluded from various sports and activities as a child. Before the Olympics she gave birth to her first child, Yolanda, just two years later she was running in the Olympics! Her struggles came one after another but they were also well defeated with strength, courage and hope from a young woman who was a nobody coming up and went against all odds to be one of the most inspirational people ever known!


Wilma first went to the Olympics in 1956 where she won her first bronze metal in her 4x100m relay. She then got her title of fastest woman in the world the following Olympics when she won three gold medals for her 100m, 200m and her 4x100m relay. Not only has she made her mark in history for her great speed but her determination has been acknowledged by many people and she is also known as a great achiever in believing what she knew she could do. Unfortunately, the world lost a great legend on November 12, 1994 when Wilma died.

Page created on 6/9/2006 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 6/9/2006 12:00:00 AM

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