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Wilma Rudolph

Long before becoming the world's fastest woman, Rudolph beat her greatest odds by learning to walk on her own. As the 17th of 21 children, Rudolph was suffering from polio, scarlet fever and double pneumonia and grew up wearing a brace on her right leg. To everyone's amazement, she removed the brace and walked unassisted at age nine. By age 13 she was outracing all the neighborhood kids – even the boys. By 16 she had qualified for the 1956 Olympics where she won a bronze in the 4×100-meter relay and in Rome four years later, she grew to become a nationally beloved figure when she won the 100 and 200 meters and 4×100.

Rudolph was additionally an outspoken Civil Rights advocate who participated in sit-ins at "whites-only" restaurants, ran a community center and established the Wilma Rudolph Foundation, which sends schools tutors and books about American heroes – a category that surely consists of the incomparable Wilma Rudolph. Wilma Rudolph, a true overcoming spirit and testament of the excellence of the human will.

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