A Tribute to Wilma Rudolph – The Original Olympic Black Star
“Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.” – Wilma Rudolph
In the spirit of Black History Month, and Juneteenth 2020, it is my honor and privilege to highlight an inspirational story of determination, mammoth sized hope, and faith in action by a woman of African descent named Wilma Rudolph. Ask any athlete, especially a track & field athlete, who was the first American woman to win three gold medals at the Olympic Games, and they’ll confidently say it is Florence Griffith Joyner aka Flo-Jo. The truth is, Wilma Glodean Rudolph was the trailblazer that paved the way for millions of little girls and boys around the world who unfortunately believe that they are somehow born to lose. Even Flo-Jo was touched by Wilma’s miraculous story, and would later become the superstar that kicked the Olympic doors even wider decades later. Ms. Rudolph reigned on and off the track in the 1960s during an era of emmense racism in America’s history.
Never Say Never | The Winner In Her Mirror
Often times its hard to see ourselves as winners or even a chance to win due to life’s pressures. Champions like Ms. Rudolph are an exception to the rule, and represents the complete opposite of win. She’s quintessence of the old saying, “Hard work pays off!” And here’s why… Wilma came out of the womb jumping hurdles, which was evident throughout her life. Her young life was riddled with excruciating pain and she could’ve easily given up as a child if she didn’t already have the heart of a champion. Born prematurely with two loving parents on June 23, 1940, one of Wilma’s legs was shorter than the other. Stricken with double pneumonia, scarlet fever and the polio virus at the age of four (Oh my God), the problems with her left leg and foot forced her to wear a large uncomfortable brace. To make matters worse, both legs became twisted until she was nine, and by that time she was ready to fly. Wilma was a caged eagle that couldn’t wait to soar. She was probably running laps on the track in her mind and spirit years before she could physically grace the track. Her doctor told her that she would never walk again – NEVER! Her mother, Blanche Rudolph, heard those words, the quintessence of a great parent, stepped in to block the curse that was released on her daughter and she spoke the exact opposite at that critical point of impact.
“My doctors told me I would never walk again. My mother told me I would. I believed my mother.”
She chose to believe in her mother’s words and her God-given abilities over the negative report of the doctors and children picking on her – the naysayers. Her mind, body, and spirit listened to the blessings her mother and father, Ed, spoke over her as a child; she had her faith completely engaged and courage to believe in herself in order to see The Winner In The Mirror (title of my new book). Wilma overcame insurmountable amount of obstacles with her disabilities. With great determination, faith in action, and physical therapy at some point she transformed from crippled to incredible. Her metamorphoses in self-perception got her to the point that she could see herself competing in athletics, let alone to contend in the 1956 Summer Olympic Games.
Racism Don’t Stop Wilma Rudolph’s Show!
Being a black woman during the Jim Crow era, you have to applaud and respect her level of commitment. This was a time when Whites legally lynched blacks (1877-1950) for financial gain, and sometimes to establish political or economic dominance. In 1960, she became the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field at a single Olympics.
Rome, 1960 was her next triumph and where she made United States track history. Rudolph won gold medals in the 100-metre dash (tying the world record: 11.3 seconds), the 200-metre dash , and as a member of the 4 x 100-metre relay team, which had set a world record of 44.4 seconds in a semifinal race. In 1961 she was named the AAU’s most outstanding amateur athlete.
The cherry on top was that that very year was the first time the Olympic Games were televised, thereby making her an instant international celebrity overnight. In her mind, she was already a superstar a long time before the world caught her light. Her bright smile and humbleness matched her performance – it was out of this world.
“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” Well in this case, she got the moon and stars. Queen Wilma, You’ll always be royalty in my book. “Thank you for the inspiration to believe that we can be as great and successful as we want to be!” Please, share this article with your friends and family on your social media.
The highly anticipated inspirational book, “The Winner In The Mirror – Activating Your Superpowers: Mind, Body, and Spirit” will be available August 2020. Discounted pre-orders are available for a limited time only. Check out my videos and other two books,“7 Types of Queens, Kings Desire,” and “The Courage To Believe: Never Give Up, Keep Moving Forward.”