Friday, 14 December 2012

Wilma Rudolph

Here is a short and inspiring life sketch of Wilma Rudolph was an exceptional American track and field athlete. She overcame debilitating childhood illnesses and became the first American woman to win three gold medals in a single Olympics.

Wilma Rudolph was born into poverty in 1940 in Saint Bethlehem, Tennessee, USA. When she was four years old she had double pneumonia with scarlet fever, which left her paralyzed with polio.

All these ailments contributed to a bad leg that doctors said would prevent her from ever walking. But Wilma had a loving and devoted family who made sure she got medical attention. They provided physical therapy themselves four times a day. She wore a leg brace from the time she was five. At the age of nine, against the advice of the doctors, she removed the braces and took her first step. She took it off permanently at eleven.

 Her mother encouraged her and said that she could do anything she wanted if she only believed. Wilma said, “I want to be the fastest woman on this earth.” 

At the age of thirteen,
she got involved in organized sports at school, including basketball and track. She took part in her first race and came running as the last. She entered various other races, but could not make considerable advancements. She persisted. One day, she came in first. Since then she was running and winning races.

 At the age of fifteen she was invited to a training camp at Tennessee State University by coach Ed Temple, who coached numerous track and field athletes . He became Wilma's most important professional influence.

Ed Temple is worthy to have a cheer from us too. Thank you Ed for leaving behind an inspiration to generations.

Wilma told Ed Temple that she wanted to become the fastest woman on the track, on this earth. The coach replied, “With your spirit nobody can stop you.”

In 1956, when she was in high school, she participated in the Olympic Games conducted in Melbourne, Australia. She lost the 200 meter race, but her relay team won the bronze medal.

Wilma became more determined than ever.

In 1958, she began college studies at Tennessee State University and became a member of Ed Temple's "Tigerbelles" track team.

In 1960, she set a world record for the 200 meter dash during the Olympic trials. Then during the Olympic Games in Rome, she became the first American woman to win three gold medals in the 100 meter dash, the 200 meter dash and the 400 meter relay. When she returned to Tennessee, she was honored with her hometown's first racially integrated parade.

The paralytic girl became the fastest woman on this earth

She was honoured through her life with a Sullivan Award, which is given annually to the top amateur athlete in the United States, the Black Sports Hall of Fame, the U.S. Track and Field Hall of Fame, the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame and the National Women's Hall of Fame. In 1993, she became the first recipient of President Clinton's National Sports Award.

Wilma Rudolph was not a cripple, but winner. She took control of her destiny and pursued her dream with a vengeance. Along the way she had to overcome challenges. But she did not turn back. It was do it for the best, for her.

Wilma’s  autobiography, "Wilma Rudolph on Track", was a bestseller, and in 1977 it became a television movie, starring Cicely Tyson.

On Nov. 12, 1994, Wilma Rudolph died of a brain tumor at the age of 54. The Olympic flag covered her casket at her funeral.

She remains imparting inspirational determination to overcome her physical disabilities, to millions in this world. Through the love of her family and her religious convictions she rose above the racism and segregation of her time.

If a crippled person like Wilma can make it, what more can we do?

Professor Jacob Abraham

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