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Wilma Rudolph

Photo of Wilma Rudolph

Inducted: 1974, athlete

Born: June 23, 1940 - Clarksville, Tennessee
Deceased: November 12, 1994

Events
100 m - 11.20
200 m - 22.90


At 5' 11" and 130 pounds, Wilma Rudolph was grace in motion -- and what motion! After overcoming polio in childhood, she became an unbeaten sprinter and member of the basketball team at Burt High School in Clarksville, Tenn. She was just 16 when she qualified for the Olympic team in the 200 meters. At the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, she won a bronze medal in the 4x100m relay but failed to qualify in the 200. A year later, she entered Tennessee State University, where she was coached by Hall of Famer Ed Temple. She soon became the world's best sprinter, setting world records in the 100, 200 and 4x100m relay. At the 1960 Rome Olympics, Rudolph became the first American woman to win three gold medals (in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relays). Winner of seven National AAU sprint titles, she received the 1961 Sullivan Award as the nation's top amateur athlete. She retired at the age of 22 after winning the 100 meters and anchoring the winning U.S. 4x100m relay team in the USA-USSR dual meet at Stanford University. Rudolph later became active in youth work, heading the Wilma Rudolph Foundation. She also became a motivational speaker and, in 1987, became head track coach at DePauw University. She was elected to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1983.

Records Held
World Record: 100 m - 11.20 (July 19, 1961 - )
World Record: 200 m - 22.90 (July 9, 1960 - )

Championships
1956 Olympics: 400 m relay (3rd)
1960 Olympics: 100 m (1st)
1960 Olympics: 200 m (1st)
1960 Olympics: 400 m relay (1st)

Education
high school: Burt (Clarksville, Tennessee), 1957
undergraduate: Tennessee State (Nashville, Tennessee), 1963

Occupations
Youth work
Motivational speaker
Coach

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