Wilma Rudolph

In 1960, Wilma Rudolph became the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field at a single Olympics. "My doctors told me I would never walk again. My mother told me I would. I believed my mother." Born on June 23, 1940, in St. Bethlehem, Tennessee, Wilma Rudolph was a sickly child who had to wear a brace on her left leg. She overcame her disabilities to compete in the 1956 Summer Olympic Games, and in 1960, she became the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field at a single Olympics. Later in life, she formed the Wilma Rudolph Foundation to promote amateur athletics. The Olympic great died on November 12, 1994, following a battle with brain cancer.


Rudolph is remembered as one of the fastest women in track and as a source of great inspiration for generations of athletes. She once stated, "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." In 2004, the United States Postal Service honored the Olympic champion by featuring her likeness on a 23‑cent stamp.

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