Snapshot of a history maker: Wilma Rudolph

Commentary by Logan A. White
Times-News correspondent

Most student athletes are cheered on by their family, but can you imagine having twenty-one siblings rooting for you? Wilma Rudolph grew up with a large family encouraging her throughout an amazing athletic career. Who was this persistent speedster? Here’s five fast facts about Wilma Rudolph:
Polio survivor — weighing less than five pounds at her premature birth, Rudolph contracted polio, scarlet fever, and pneumonia during her childhood. She partially lost the use of her left leg and had to wear a metal brace in the crippled limb, but according to ESPN, was out of the braces and onto the basketball court by age nine.
Slam dunk — before she became a world-renowned sprinter, Rudolph was a Tennessee high school basketball star. She set a state record of 49 points in one game, according to Her prowess on the court caught the eye of college track and field coach Ed Temple, who would later train Rudolph and other victorious Olympians.
      Teen tornado — although she wasn’t dubbed “the Tornado” until after the 1960 Summer Olympics, Rudolph won a bronze medal in the women’s 4-by-100- meter relay during the 1956 Olympics, according to Wilma was the youngest member of the U.S. team— she was only 16.
Blaze of glory — 1960 was a fantastic year for the young sprinter: she won three medals at the Summer Olympics and set a new world record for the 200meter dash. Rudolph was hailed by the press as “The Black Gazelle,” “The Black Pearl” and “The Tornado, the fastest woman on earth,” according to Wikipedia.
Ageless advice — In a quote found on, Rudolph once said, “Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.”
How will Wilma Rudolph inspire you during Black History Month?

 Logan A. White is a home-schooled sophomore and a Teens & Twenties writer.


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