Disability to super ability

by Michelle Fortes

When Wilma Rudolph was four years old, she had polio. To make matters worse, her family was poor. Her father was a railroad porterand her mother was a maid.Wilma had to wear a brace and the doctor said she would never puther foot on the earth. But her mother encouraged her. She told Wilma that with persistence and faith she could achieve anything shewanted. At the age of nine, against the advice of the doctors, sheremoved the brace and took her first step. At the age of 13, sheentered her first race and came last. And then she entered hersecond, and third and fourth race and came last until a day camewhen she came in first.At the age of 15 she met a coach by the name of Ed Temple. Shetold him, “I want to be the fastest woman on this earth.” Templesaid, “With yourspirit, nobody can stop you.”The day came when she was at the Olympics. Wilma was matchedagainst a woman named Jutta Heine who had never been beaten.The first event was the 100-meter race. Wilma beat her and won herfirst gold medal.In the 200-meter race, Wilma again beat Jutta and won her secondgold medal. In the 400-meter relay the fastest person always runsthe last lap and they both anchored their teams. The first threepeople ran and changed the baton easily. When it came to Wilma’sturn, she dropped the baton. But seeing Jutta shoot up at the otherend, she picked the baton, ran like a machine, beat Jutta a thirdtime and won her third gold medal.She became the first American woman to win three gold medals in asingle Olympic Game. Rudolph was called the fastest woman in theworld in the 1960s.Wilma retired from running when she was 22 years old, but shewent on to coach women’s track teams and encourage youngpeople. She started the Wilma Rudolph Foundation to help childrenlearn about discipline and hard work.

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