Track and field star Wilma Rudolph

Track and field star Wilma Rudolph
Wilma Rudolph

“My doctor told me I would never walk again. My mother told me I would. I believed my mother.”

Wilma Rudolph was born in Saint Bethlehem, Tennessee, in 1940, the twentieth of twenty-two children. Suffering from a few illnesses early in life, at the age of five, she contracted polio. To treat the condition, she and her mother would travel around 50 miles to Meharry Medical College in Nashville weekly. In addition, she received massage treatment four times a day from family members at home, and she wore a leg brace.

Wilma recovered by the time she was twelve. Four years later, she was competing in the Olympics in track and field. And four years after that, Wilma was an Olympic champion and known to the world as the fastest woman alive.

“Track and field star Wilma Rudolph” sources: Dutch National Archives, The Hague, Fotocollectie Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau (ANEFO), 1945–1989, Nummer toegang Bestanddeelnummer 911–6074 (no changes made),