Track Star
Born in 1940 - Died in 1994

When Wilma Rudolph was four years old, she had a disease called polio * which causes people to be crippled and unable to walk. To make matters worse, her family was poor and could not afford good medical care. She was from a large family. She was the 20th child of 22 children. Her father was a railroad porter * and her mother was a maid.

Her mother decided she would do everything she could to help Wilma to walk again. The doctors had said she would not be able to walk. She took her every week on a long bus trip to a hospital to receive therapy * . It didn't help, but the doctors said she needed to give Wilma a massage * every day by rubbing her legs. She taught the brothers and sisters how to do it, and they also rubbed her legs four times a day.

By the time she was 8, she could walk with a leg brace. After that, she used a high-topped shoe to support her foot. She played basketball with her brothers every day.

Three years later, her mother came home to find her playing basketball by herself bare-footed. She didn't even have to use the special shoe.

A track coach encouraged her to start running. She ran so well that during her senior year in high school, she qualified for the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. She won a bronze medal in the women's 400-meter relay.

In 1959, she qualified for the 1960 Olympic Games * in Rome by setting a world's record in the 200-meter race. At the Olympics that year she won two gold medals; one for the 100-meter race and one for the 200-meter race.

Then she sprained her ankle, but she ignored the pain and helped her team to win another gold medal for the 400-meter relay! In the picture above you see the three gold medals she won at the Rome Olympics.

She retired from running when she was 22 years old, but she went on to coach women's track teams and encourage young people.

Wilma thought God had a greater purpose for her than to win three gold medals. She started the Wilma Rudolph Foundation to help children learn about discipline and hard work.

She died of brain cancer in 1994. Even though she is no longer alive, her influence still lives on in the lives of many young people who look up to her.

This biography by Patsy Stevens, a retired teacher, was written in 2001.

A frequent question:
"Who wrote this biography
and when was it written?"
Look on this Reference Citations Chart.

Work a Jigsaw Puzzle

Online Crossword Puzzle

Online Word Search

Online Word Scramble

Color Picture Online

Take the Test Online


Alphabetical Order

Wilma Rudolph Word Search

Wilma Rudolph Crossword Puzzle

Wilma Rudolph - Word Scramble

Wilma Rudolph - Word Match *

Wilma Rudolph Study Sheet


Color a picture of Wilma Rudolph

Print Wilma Rudolph Test


Wilma Rudolph
Women in History

Wilma Rudolph

Wilma Rudolph
Encyclopedia of World Biography

Wilma Unlimited
Wilma Rudolph lesson plan from Kim's Korner

Wilma Rudolph
at Wikipedia

Wilma Rudolph Chronology

My Hero, Wilma Rudolph

Wilma Rudolph, ESPN

Wilma Rudolph,
Voice of America

Wilma Rudolph Quotes

Wilma Rudolph
Tennessee History for Kids

Wilma Rudolph
printable book

From Word Central's Student Dictionary
by Merriam - Webster

(Pronunciation note: the schwa sound is shown by ə)

polio (poliomyelitis)
Pronunciation: "pO-lE-"O-"mI-ə-'lIt-əs
Function: noun
: an infectious virus disease marked by inflammation of nerve cells in the spinal cord
accompanied by fever and often paralysis and wasting of muscles,
called also infantile paralysis

Pronunciation: 'pOrt-ər
Function: noun
1 : a person who carries baggage (as at a hotel)
2 : a railroad employee who waits on passengers....

Pronunciation: 'ther-ə-pE
Function: noun
: the treatment of disease especially by massage, exercise, water, or heat

Pronunciation: mə - sahzh', - sahj'
Function: noun
: treatment (as of the body) by rubbing, stroking, kneading, or tapping

Olympic Games
Function: noun plural
: a series of international athletic contests held in a different country once every four years

120985: Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's  Fastest Woman Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman
By Kathleen Krull / Harcourt Brace

The dramtic and inspiring true story of runner Wilma Rudolph, who overcame incredible odds to become one of the worlds finest athletes. Before Wilma was 5 yrs old, polio had paralyzed her left leg. Everyone said she would never walk again. But Wilma refused to believe it. Not only would she walk again, she vowed, she'd run. It was hard work, but at last she did run- all the way to the Olympics, where she became the first American woman to earn 3 gold medals in a single Olympics.

358645: African American Awareness for Young Children: A Curriculum African American Awareness for Young Children: A Curriculum
By Evia Davis / Good Year Books

Here are four, exciting teaching units you can incorporate easily into your existing early childhood curriculum as either supplemental or core material. These special units expose children to literature that helps develop an appreciation of the African American culture and provides role models with whom they can identify. By recognizing the importance of cultural awareness in the development of a child's self-concept, these cultural experiences benefit all the children in the class! Includes complete lesson plans with poems, songs, and book suggestions, hands-on activities, pages to color and take home, and a classroom reproducible excerpt from the "I Have a Dream" speech. Grades PreK-1.


Wilma Rudolph (A&E)
by Amy Ruth (selected pages) Order here

Wilma Rudolph
by Corinne J. Naden, Rose Blue (selected pages) Order here

Stick to It!: The Story of Wilma Rudolph (Spyglass Books)
by David Conrad (selected pages) Order here

Wilma Rudolph, Newmaster Reading Comprehension, Homework Helpers, Grade 3
by Mary Newmaster(selected pages Order here

Life-Skills for Middle School, Vol. 3 (Learner's Workbook)
by ARISE Foundation (selected pages) Order here

Preview these Amazon books using the links below.

Wilma Rudolph
by Victoria Sherrow(selected pages)

Wilma Rudolph
by Thomas Streissguth(selected pages)

Wilma Rudolph Champion Athlete
by Tom Biracree (selected pages)

Wilma Rudolph Olympic Track Star
by Lee Engler (selected pages)

Wilma Rudolph
by Maureen Smith (selected pages)

Wilma Rudolph
by Jo Harper (selected pages)

Wilma Rudolph (First Biographies)
by Eric Braun (selected pages)

Page Comments

Most Recent Comments   ( See more comments on this page )
Nice site! Good information. Where did you get this info? A book? Another site? Oh, Well. Keep up the good work! If you keep adding, I'll keep comin'! (BTW, I <3 Jesus!)
Anonymous, (Sorry)
Thanks SO much! This site has rich info, nice touches! keep up the good work!

Leave a Comment       View all Comments

Biographies in this Series

Reference citations information for these biographies

Presidents of
the United States
George Washington John Adams Thomas Jefferson James Madison James Monroe Andrew Jackson
  Martin Van Buren Abraham Lincoln Theodore Roosevelt Franklin D. Roosevelt Harry S. Truman Dwight D. Eisenhower
  John F. Kennedy Lyndon B. Johnson Jimmy Carter Ronald Reagan Barack Obama Calvin Coolidge
American Patriots Benjamin Franklin Francis Scott Key Deborah Sampson Molly Pitcher
World Leaders Constantine Alexander the Great Winston Churchill Margaret Thatcher
Inventors Alexander Graham Bell Johann Gutenberg Cyrus McCormick The Wright Brothers Henry Ford Thomas A. Edison
  Sequoyah Nikola Tesla Michael Faraday Dean Kamen Jack Kilby Leonardo Da Vinci
  Donald O'Neal
Explorers Christopher Columbus Meriwether Lewis Robert Peary John Muir Matthew Henson Sir Edmund Hillary
  Kit Carson Johnny Appleseed Daniel Boone
Women who made
a difference
Clara Barton Helen Keller Florence Nightingale Joan of Arc Amelia Earhart Annie Oakley
  Susan B. Anthony Elizabeth Keckly Harriet Tubman Anne Frank Eleanor Roosevelt Madam C.J. Walker
  Sadako Sasaki Henrietta Lacks Malala Yousafzai      
Scientists George Washington Carver Sir Isaac Newton Marie Curie Louis Pasteur Albert Einstein Galileo
  Lise Meitner Norman Borlaug Benjamin Banneker
Educators Noah Webster Booker T. Washington Aristotle Mary McLeod Bethune
Physicians Hippocrates Walter Reed Albert Schweitzer
Religious Leaders George Muller Increase Mather
Athletes Lou Gehrig Wilma Rudolph Tiger Woods Michael Phelps
Civil Rights
Martin Luther King Rosa Parks Sojourner Truth Frederick Douglass Mary Ann Shadd Cary James Forten
  Gandhi César Chávez William Wilberforce Nelson Mandela
Composers Beethoven Mozart
Authors Laura Ingalls Wilder Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) Ernest Hemingway Greg Mortenson Phillis Wheatley
Artists John James Audubon Gutzon Borglum Ansel Adams Dale Chihuly Van Gogh Michelangelo
  Rembrandt Grandma Moses Cassatt Renoir Cezanne Rockwell


Back to Famous Leaders

Picture courtesy of Corbis.com

Puzzles on these pages courtesy of
Songs of Praise and Armored Penguin

*Word Match Solution