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In honor of Black History Month, we want to celebrate a few Black female athletes that helped pave the way for all of us. We introduce you to Wilma Rudolph, who, despite being told as a child she would never walk again, overcame the odds to become the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field in a single Olympics (1960). She broke three world records and became known as the "fastest woman in the world."
As a child, however, she endured scarlet fever and polio, resulting in paralysis in her left leg at the age of 5. She was told she would never walk again, but by 11 her mother discovered her playing basketball outside. From that time on, she quickly turned to sports. After a chance meeting with a college coach, she turned to track and field.
At the age of 16, she won her first Olympic medal — a bronze in the 4x100 relay — in the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. Four years later in Rome, she would return to win triple gold.
Returning home an Olympic champion, she refused to attend a parade in her honor unless it was integrated. Her parade and banquet were the first integrated events in Clarksville, TN. She went on to be inducted into the Black Athletes Hall of Fame in 1973, National Track and Field Hall of Fame and U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1983. She also started the Wilma Rudolph Foundation to help inspire young athletes. You can read more about Rudolph here and here.