For Black History Month, we will spotlight some of the greatest athletes in Historically Black College and University History. Today we spotlight a woman who overcame childhood struggles to become a three-time gold medalist.
Wilma Rudolph overcame a number of struggles as a kid including pneumonia and scarlet fever, and she contracted infantile paralysis at the age of five. Rudolph wore a leg brace but eventually learned how to walk without it. In High School, Rudolph excelled in basketball and track but during her Senior year who gave birth. During a Basketball game in High School, she was spotted by legendary track coach Ed Temple, of Tennessee State and the rest was history.
Before enrolling in TSU, Rudolph joined the summer track program at the HBCU. At a meet in Philadelphia Rudolph won all nine events she entered. Rudolph raced at amateur athletic events with TSU’s women’s track team, known as the Tigerbelles, for two more years before enrolling at TSU as a student in 1958. As a Junior in High School, attended the 1956 U.S. Olympic track and field team trials in Seattle, Washington, where she qualified for the 200-meters. Rudolph ran the third leg of the 4 × 100 m relay. The American team of Rudolph and three other TSU track members took home the bronze medal.
At the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Italy, Rudolph took home the Gold Medal in the 100 meters, 200 meters and the 4×100 meter relay. She was the first woman ever to win 3 Gold Medals at the Olympics.