MEMORIALS & DEDICATIONS
• WILMA RUDOLPH EVENT CENTER
& LIFE SIZE BRONZE STATUE
LIBERTY PARK AND MARINA
1190 CUMBERLAND DR.
• WILMA RUDOLPH MUSEUM EXHIBIT
CUSTOMS HOUSE MUSEUM AND CULTURAL CENTER
200 SOUTH SECOND ST.
• WILMA RUDOLPH GRAVE SITE
FOSTON MEMORIAL GARDENS
PARADISE HILL RD.
For more information
25 Jefferson St. • Clarksville, TN 37040
1-800-530-2487 • 931-647-2331 • 931-553-8467
or visit our Welcome Center
180 Holiday Dr. • Clarksville, TN 37040 • 931-553-8467
THREE TIME OLYMPIC
1960 SUMMER GAMES
It is through adversity and struggle that some of the most
courageous individuals are born. Through determination,
perseverance and a will to succeed legends are created.
Wilma Rudolph became legend when she took home three
gold medals in the 1960 Olympic Games. The first American
woman to achieve such a feat, Rudolph proved to the world
that nothing could keep her
Wilma Glodean Rudolph, the
20th of 22 children, was born
premature on June 23, 1940
near Clarksville, Tenn. Battling
illness for most of her child
hood; Rudolph suffered from
polio, pneumonia and scarlet
fever all before the age of six.
She was confined to a leg brace
which left her disabled. Doctors
told her family she would
never walk, and certainly never run, normally during her life.
Through extensive physical therapy and determination, she
overcame her disability to become one of the most notable
and celebrated Olympic runners of all time.
As Rudolph once said, “My doctors told me I would never
walk again. My mother told me I would. I believed my
mother.” This attitude is what helped Rudolph overcome the
health issues that plagued her childhood and allowed her to
become involved in athletics as a teen. She played basketball
for the Burt High School team. Later, she was recruited to
run track for the school as well. While still in high school, she
qualified for the 1956 Olympic Games in Australia. There she
won a bronze medal, a foreshadowing of the great success
that was yet to come.
Once home in Tennessee, Rudolph graduated from high
school and enrolled in the historically black Tennessee State
University on a full scholarship and pursued her degree in
education. All the while, she continued to train competitively
in Track & Field as a TSU Tigerbelle, always aspiring for
her next shot at Olympic
Wilma Graduating from T.S.U.
Wilma as a student at Burt High
School in Clarksville, TN
Rudolph’s chance came in
1960 when she went to the
Olympic Games in Rome.
While in Italy, Rudolph
won the 100 meter, 200
meter and sprint relay
events. Instantly this goldmedal
sprinter became a
sports superstar and an
athlete. She returned to the
states an American hero.
Several other honors were
bestowed upon her, including
the Associated Press Woman
Athlete of the Year.
With all of the fame and
glory, Rudolph returned to
a hometown that still held
some of the old wounds of
segregation and racism. At
her insistence, Rudolph’s
homecoming parade and
banquet were desegregated
events, the first in the city’s
Rudolph retired from her Olympic career and found success
in teaching, coaching and public speaking. In the 1980’s she
was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. Rudolph
succumbed to brain cancer in 1994, but not before she
created the Wilma Rudolph Foundation, which supports the
dreams of amateur athletes.
TO HONOR WILMA
In honor of one of America’s most outstanding Olympic
athletes and her legacy, Clarksville has paid homage to the
hometown hero in several ways. In 1993, US State Highway
79 in Clarksville, was renamed Wilma Rudolph Boulevard.
ESPN has since produced an hour documentary for the
Sports Century program
honoring the top athletes
of the century. The program
first aired in 2002. Then in
2003, the Tennessee Historic
Commission and Dr. Yvonne
Prather created a historic
marker which sits at the
intersection of Wilma
Rudolph Boulevard and
Old Trenton Road.
Today, an Event Center is
named in her honor at Liberty Park and
Marina in Clarksville. There, a bronze
statue of Wilma Rudolph sits outside the
building. It was hand-crafted in her likeness
by local sculptor Howard Brown. Her story
is also part of a permanent exhibit at the
Customs House Museum and Cultural
Center in Clarksville.
Wilma Rudolph crossing the finish
line at the 1960 Olympic Games
Wilma waves at the
crowd during the
1960 Olympic Games