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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Wilma Rudolph : A Dream On Story

At the 1960 Rome Olympics, Rudolph became "the fastest woman in the world" and the first American woman to win three gold medals in one Olympics. The fact that she was a premature baby to a maid mother and porter dad, and was polio impaired by the age 4, got us to to select this story as one of our "Dream On" stories...Read on...

Wilma Glodean Rudolph was born prematurely at 4.5 pounds (2.0 kg), the 20th of twenty two siblings. Her father Ed was a railway porter and her mother Blanche a maid. Rudolph contracted infantile paralysis (caused by the polio virus) at age four. 

But she and her family had never learnt to give up in life. 

Her brothers and sisters took turns massaging her crippled leg every day. Her family traveled regularly from Clarksville, Tennessee, to Meharry Hospital (now Nashville General Hospital at Meharry) in Nashville, Tennessee, for treatments for her twisted leg. 

Years of treatment and a determination to be a "normal kid" worked. Despite whooping cough, measles and chickenpox, Rudolph was out of her leg braces at age 9 and soon became a budding basketball star.

When she was 11, her brothers set up a basketball hoop in the yard. "After that," her mother said, "it was basketball, basketball, basketball."

In 1953, after her treatments were over, Rudolph chose to follow in her sister's footsteps and began playing basketball. While playing for her high school team, she was spotted by Tennessee State track and field coach Ed Temple. Being discovered by Temple was a major break for this young athlete. 

The day he saw the tenth grader for the first time, he knew he had found a natural athlete. Rudolph had already gained some track experience on Burt High School's track team two years before, mostly as a way to keep busy between basketball seasons. Rudolph joined Temple's summer program at Tennessee State and trained regularly, racing with his Tigerbelles for two years.

She loved it enough to begin attending Temple's daily college practices while still in high school. Temple's dedication was inspiring. He was a sociology professor at Tennessee State and unpaid coach. He drove the team to meets in his own car and had the school track, an unmarked and unsurfaced dirt oval, lined at his own expense.

But Temple was no soft touch. He made the girls run an extra lap for every minute they were late to practice. Rudolph once overslept practice by 30 minutes and was made to run 30 extra laps. The next day she was sitting on the track 30 minutes early.

Unity and teamwork were Temple's passions. He reminded reporters after Rudolph became famous that there were three other gold medalists on the platform with her during the relay event. Almost the entire 1960 Olympic team, coached by Temple, came from his Tennessee State team.

By the time she was sixteen, she earned a berth on the U.S. Olympic track and field team and came home from the 1956 Melbourne Games with an Olympic bronze medal in the 4 × 100 m relay to show her high school classmates.

At the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, she won three Olympic titles: in the 100 m, 200 m and 4x100m relay. As the temperature climbed toward 110 °F (43 °C), 80,000 spectators jammed the Stadio Olimpico. Rudolph ran the 100 m dash in an impressive 11 seconds flat. However the time was not credited as a world record, because it was wind-aided. She also won the 200m dash in 23.2 seconds, a new Olympic record. After these wins, she was being hailed throughout the world as "the fastest woman in history". Finally, on September 11, 1960, she combined with Tennessee State teammates Martha Hudson, Lucinda Williams and Barbara Jones to win the 4x100m relay in 44.5 seconds, setting a world record. Rudolph had a special, personal reason to hope for victory—to pay tribute to Jesse Owens, the celebrated American athlete who had been her inspiration, also the star of the 1936 Summer Olympics, held in Berlin, Germany.

She overcame her disabilities through physical therapy and hard work, and went on to become the first American woman to win three gold medals at a single Olympics in 1960, at the Summer Games in Rome, and later worked as a teacher and track coach. 
My doctors told me I would never walk again. My mother told me I would. I believed my mother.
That is the kind of belief which separates dreamers from ordinary men and women. A Dreamer looks at the solutions. A Dreamer looks at the possibilities. ~ Dream On (the book)

The newspapers called her "The Black Pearl" and "The Black Gazelle." After the Olympics, when the team competed in Greece, England, Holland and Germany, it was the charming, beautiful Rudolph, fans wanted to watch perform.

Sports Illustrated reported that mounted police had to keep back her admirers in Cologne. In Berlin, fans stole her shoes then surrounded her bus and beat on it with their fists until she waved.

"She's done more for her country than what the U.S. could have paid her for," Temple said.

She said her greatest accomplishment was creating the Wilma Rudolph Foundation, a not-for-profit, community-based amateur sports program.

And that is what Dream On (the book) shows us through an epic story of a dreamer. Our mission is not accomplished unless we have elevated lives around us.

Honors kept coming for Rudolph. She was voted into the Black Athletes Hall of Fame in 1973 and the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1974. NBC made a movie about her life from her autobiography, "Wilma."

Rudolph died of brain cancer at age 54 on Nov. 12, 1994 in Nashville. Her extraordinary calm and grace are what people remember most about her. Said Bill Mulliken, a 1960 Olympics teammate of Rudolph's: "She was beautiful, she was nice, and she was the best."

The below video shows her all time best 3 Gold medals at the Rome Olympics:


She says she does not know why she runs so fast, she just runs...
"I tell them that the most important aspect is to be yourself and have confidence in yourself," she said. "I remind them the triumph can't be had without the struggle."

And that is the spirit of Dream On...Every setback, each struggle comes to build us, to elevate our life. Every setback is a little nudge from HIM to Dream On

Exactly, triumph is not feasible without the struggle, because it is not the triumph but the struggle that builds you up to be worthy of the success. ~ Dream On (the book)

Are you ready to Dream On in life, and get set to lead an extraordinary life? 
Catch hold of this epic story of a dreamer, catch hold of the book.. Dream On.

Like it? Share it then. You may make someone's day or life.


Manoj Arora
Stay happy.... always !! 

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