Wilma Rudolph was born prematurely and is the 20th of 22 siblings. She was diagnosed with infantile paralysis from a polio virus at the age of four. She recovered, wore a brace on her left leg and foot until she was nine and then had to wear an orthopedic shoe for two years. During her childhood she also suffered from scarlet fever, whooping cough, chicken pox and the measles.
Many have coined her as the fastest woman in the world in the 1960s. She competed in the 1956 Olympics winning a bronze medal and 1960 Olympics winning three gold medals. She is the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field during a single Olympic Game. Rudolph helped pave the way during the civil rights and women’s rights movement. In 1977 the movie Wilma was made about her life story.