Wilma Rudolph Suffered from a terrible disease called polio. It made her very weak and caused on of her legs to turn inward. Her twisted leg and frequent illnesses prevented her from starting school with other children her age. When Wilma realized how different she was from other children, she became upset and decided to overcome her health problems. Her determination worked, and her health steadily improved. Wilma was even able to enter second grade with other children her age, but she still had to wear a brace on her crippled left leg. This remained a physical barrier to normal activity until sixth grade when her condition improved and she no longer needed to wear it. In junior high she joined the school basketball team. Despite much hard work, it was three years before she was allowed to play in competition. Eventually she became a lead player on her team and helped them win a state championship. In between basketball seasons, Wilma joined her school's track team so that she could stay in good physical condition. As Wilma's natural running abilities became apparent, track became more important to her. One year, her running ability caught the attention of a world famous track coach named Ed Temple. He invited Wilma to attend summer training at Tennessee State College. The intensive training that summer helped her develop her running skills to Olympic level. With encouragement from Ed Temple, Wilma entered the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. There she won a bronze medal and became determined to be the first American woman to win three gold medals. She trained with determination for four years and at the 1960 Olympics in Rome, Italy, Wilma Rudolph accomplished her goal! Shortly after the Olympics, she retired form her track career to travel around the United States and to foreign countries telling about how determination and hard work could help make dreams come true.
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