Wilma Rudolph / by Molly Schiot

Wilma Rudolph was born in 1940 in Bethlehem, Tenn. The twentieth of 22 children, she was born with polio and suffered from serious bouts of pneumonia and scarlet fever as a young child. All these ailments contributed to a bad leg that some said would prevent her from ever walking.  She wore a leg brace from the time she was five until she was 11 years old. Then, one Sunday, she removed it and walked down the aisle of her church. In 1960, she set a world record for the 200 meter dash during the Olympic trials. Then during the Olympic games in Rome, she became the first American woman to win three gold medals in the 100 meter dash, the 200 meter dash and the 400 meter relay. When she returned to Tennessee, she was honored with her hometown's first racially integrated parade.

Wilma Rudolph was born in 1940 in Bethlehem, Tenn. The twentieth of 22 children, she was born with polio and suffered from serious bouts of pneumonia and scarlet fever as a young child. All these ailments contributed to a bad leg that some said would prevent her from ever walking.  She wore a leg brace from the time she was five until she was 11 years old. Then, one Sunday, she removed it and walked down the aisle of her church. In 1960, she set a world record for the 200 meter dash during the Olympic trials. Then during the Olympic games in Rome, she became the first American woman to win three gold medals in the 100 meter dash, the 200 meter dash and the 400 meter relay. When she returned to Tennessee, she was honored with her hometown's first racially integrated parade.