Wilma Rudolph – She Defied the Odds to Achieve Olympic Glory!

Wilma Rudolph – She Defied the Odds to Achieve Olympic Glory!

As the first American female ever to win three Olympic gold medals, Wilma Rudolph is one of the world’s most celebrated athletes. However, her Olympic success was not easily won – it was the result of incredible strength and determination, as Wilma fought to overcome odds that were stacked high against her.

Wilma was born in 1940 into a poor family, one of 22 kids. She spent much of her early childhood battling illness after illness, including a bout with polio that left her virtually a cripple. But with the help of her family and a lot of hard work, she regained the use of her legs and was able to walk normally by the age of 12. After that she turned to athletics. She started as a basketball player but had a long road to success. Then she started running track, and she realized it was where she belonged – her incredible running talent led her to a full college scholarship and eventually Olympic success!

This video tells all about Wilma and her outstanding achievements.

Additional Resources:

  • Here is an article that tells the story of Wilma and her amazing accomplishments.
  • Here is a video that shows Wilma in action winning one of her Olympic gold medals!

Topics for Discussion:

  • How do you think Wilma was able to overcome being crippled and learn to not just walk again, but also run?
  • Do you know anyone who has overcome a disability like Wilma did?

Take Action:

  • Visit the Women’s Sports Foundation website to learn about the Wilma Rudolph Courage Award and to learn how you can help support women athletes!
  • After her Olympic success, Wilma worked to help underpriveleged athletes. Visit the Global Sports Advantage website to learn how you too can participate in this worthy cause!

Teacher Features:

  • Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for elementary school students.
  • Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for middle school students.

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