“I believe in me more than anything in this world.”
Wilma Rudolph was the female sensation of the first internationally televised Olympics, the 1960 Rome Games. The 20th of 22 children of a working-class Tennessee couple, she sprinted to gold medals in the 100 meters, 200 meters, and 4 x 100-meter relay, thus becoming the first American woman to capture three golds in a single Olympics. Italians took to calling the graceful American, a star with the Tennessee State Tigerbelles, La Gazella Negra, or the Black Gazelle. Her victories were one of the great inspirational stories of any Olympics, since as a child she had worn a leg brace in recovering from a paralytic condition that threatened her ability even to walk. The Women’s Sports Foundation annually presents the Wilma Rudolph Courage Award in her honor. It was first presented in 1996, two year’s after her passing. Here are 10 quotes from Rudolph on her birthday, June 23.