Inspirational Quote from Track and Field Legend Wilma Rudolph for #MothersDay (LISTEN) –
[Wilma Rudolph and her parents Ed and Blanche Rudolph as they rode in a parade after Olympic victory in Rome. Rudolph agreed to participate only if the event was desegregated. This was the first desegregated public event in Clarksville, Tennessee. Photo credit: Bob Ray via https://digital.library.nashville.org/digital/collection/nr/id/2227/]
by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)
On Mother’s Day 2022, we offer a quote from three-time Olympic gold medalist and international track star Wilma Rudolph, who rightfully and fatefully choose to believe her mother.
To read it and about her, read on. To hear it and more about Rudolph, press PLAY:
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Hey, this is Lori Lakin Hutcherson, founder and editor in chief of goodblacknews.org, here to share with you a daily drop of for Sunday, May 8th, 2022, based on the “A Year of Page-A-Day Calendar” published by Workman Publishing.
Today, for Mother’s Day, we offer a quote from three-time Olympic Gold Medalist and National Track and Field Hall of Famer Wilma Rudolph, who had polio as a young child:
“My doctors told me I’d never walk again. My mother told me I would. I believed my mother.”
Wilma Glodean Rudolph was born prematurely in June 1940 and after contracting Scarlet Fever, pneumonia, polio and infantile paralysis, Rudolph wore braces on her legs until she was nine years old.
Because there was so little medical care available to Black people in 1940s Clarksville, Tennessee, Wilma’s mother Blanche took her on weekly bus trips 50 miles away to Nashville to get Wilma treatment at Meharry Medical College.
Blanche and other family members also massaged Wilma’s weakened leg four times a week until Wilma had enough strength to no longer need braces, or the orthopedic shoe she wore until she was 11.
By the time she was 16, Wilma was running in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, bringing home a bronze medal in the 400-meter relay.
Rudolph earned a college scholarship to Tennessee State and in 1960, she headed to Rome with the goal of becoming the best woman runner in the world. She surpassed that goal, winning three gold medals and breaking world records in the 100 and 200 meters.
She was nicknamed “The Tornado” and became an international track star. Rudolph graduated college with a degree in elementary education, and taught for the majority of her life after she retired from athletics. Let’s hear a clip from Rudolph describing the last race she ever ran before she retired:
“It was Palo Alto, California, Stanford University, Russia versus the United States. I was running well, but the heart wasn’t there anymore. I mean, what do you dowhen you win all of it? To keep yourself motivated, you have to be a little bit hungry, to be there and stay there and to stay on top.
And this particular day, we were running a relay we were behind when we started off. And you always think on a staggered start and you know, on a staggered start that, okay, she’s gonna catch her in the turn. And by the time that baton is passed, we were going to be even. That didn’t happen. And then when they pass it the next time I said, well, by the time they get to the next person, we will be even, or be one step ahead.
And by the time it got to me, I saw that we were behind, and I made myself a promise that day I said, if you catch the Russian it’s history – retire. If you do not catch the Russian, you will have to run another four years for the Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. I caught the Russian. I retired, it became history.
It was the fastest single race that I’ve ever ran in the history of my career. And to get a standing ovation in my home country, outdoors, which I’ve never had before, I think it was the grandest moment in my career. I retired that day, and I have never regretted it.”
Rudolph passed in 1994 of brain cancer, the same year her mother Blanche passed. Rudolph has been honored with a U.S. postage stamp, induction into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame and National Women’s Hall of Fame, and in 2012 her hometown built the Wilma Rudolph Event Center. A life-sized bronze statue of Rudolph stands near the entrance of the building.
To learn more about Wilma Rudolph, watch videos of her Olympic races on YouTube, read her 1977 autobiography Wilma: The Story of Wilma Rudolph, Wilma Rudolph: A Biography from 2006 by Maureen Margaret Smith and the children’s book Wilma Rudolph: Athlete and Educator by Alice K. Flanagan and check out the 1977 movie Wilma starring Cicely Tyson, Shirley Jo Finney and Denzel Washington, available on Vudu.
Links to these sources and more are provided in today’s show notes and in the episode’s full transcript posted on goodblacknews.org.
This has been a daily drop of , written, produced and hosted by me, Lori Lakin Hutcherson.
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