WILMA RUDOLPH was born prematurely, the 20th of 22 children, and wasn’t expected to live. A bout of polio among other illnesses that affected her infancy, left her leg crooked and her feet twisted inward, resulting in her wearing braces for the most of her childhood. Wilma, however, was determined to make a way for herself in the world where there was no brace.

When she was 11 years, she walked into the doctor’s office and told him, ‘’I have something I would did like to share with you’’. She proceeded to take the braces off and to walk where he was sitting. The doctor was amazed at this, and he asked her how long she was doing this. He was more amazed when he heard that she was doing it since the last year. Well since you have been honest with me, sometimes I would let you take them off and walk around the house.

Sometimes was the only permission she needed. She never put those braces on again. This was the end of the braces and the beginning of another phase of her life. Moving on into middle school and high school,

Wilma wanted not to only run, but to RUN AND JUMP with the other kids. She convinced the basketball coach that he should please give her 10 minutes every day to practise with the team and she promised to become a world-class athlete in return. At first he laughed at the 6 foot, eight-nine pound straggler, but in the end he agreed. The next year Wilma made his team.
With that same attitude and persistence, Wilma kept working.

When basketball season ended, she decided to try track, and that was when she realised how fast she was. As a fourteen year old high school freshman, Wilma started to work on a training team at the UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE.

Her persistence and determination really paid off. In 1956, she got a gold medal in the Olympics as part of the women 400 meter relay team, and in 1960, she became the first woman TO WIN 3 GOLD MEDALS in track and field events.

1. Through persistence, Wilma went from being crippled to being a champion.

2. Her situation made her realize her talent and she decided to put in her best. She saw a lot of potentials in her disabilities. What do you see in your disabilities, calamity or potentials?

3. She never gave up. Never give up on yourself because of your situation.

4. She didn’t let her background determine her altitude in life. Although her background was poor she never let her back remain on the ground. She was determined, focused and she persevered. That’s why we are all learning from her success story today.


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