You’ve Got to Work for It!
Why is it that failure destroys some people, yet makes others stronger? The secret perhaps is whether they see a failure as the end or a challenge to be overcome? Wilma Rudolph was the 20th of 22 children born into an poor black family in Tennessee. As a child, she had polio and was forced to wear leg braces until she was nine. At 12, she tried out for her school’s basketball team and failed. For the next year she practised every day until she finally made the team. A college athletics coach spotted her one day and talked her into letting him train her to be a sprinter. Her persistence earned her a scholarship to Tennessee State University where she became a track star. In 1960, she made the US Olympic team. In the 100-metre sprint she had to face Jutta Heine of Germany, the world record holder. But Wilma won—and she did it again in the 200-metre event! Wilma’s third race was the 100-metre relay, where she again faced Jutta. Just as the baton was handed to Wilma she dropped it, giving Jutta the lead. But her never-give-up spirit made her pick up the baton and take off in desperate pursuit. She caught the German runner in the last few strides and won the third gold medal—more than any other woman had won at that time. Wilma became a grandmother and travelled the world for children’s causes, motivating them with her story. ‘I let them know,’ she said, ‘that they can achieve it, as long as they’re willing to work for it.’