Comeback Stories – Wilma Rudolph

May 26, 2020

The phrase “your past doesn’t define who you are” is often uttered when a traumatic memory from childhood is brought up. While that phrase is true, there are different ways to look at past struggles. Without the struggle, you would not be the person you are today.

Athletes like Wilma Rudolph became an Olympic level runner when her past struggles would have suggested an entirely different future. Throughout her childhood, she contracted several illnesses. One being polio which would later result in paralysis in her legs. Once she recovered she spent much of her time in leg braces and it was only until she was twelve years old and underwent extensive physical therapy that Rudolph was able to overcome her disability.

At the age of 16, Rudolph was the youngest member of the 1956 Olympic track and field team. She won a bronze medal that summer in Melbourne, Australia in the 400-meter relay. 

“The triumph can’t be had without the struggle.” – Wilma Rudolph

Struggle on the way to success is inevitable. There are always going to be obstacles that stand in the way of our goals, it is how you view the obstacles that determine your strength. 

One of Rudolph’s well-known quotes is winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose.”

When you think of great athletes, you always think of the ones that struggled their way to the top of their field. Rarely do we read success stories where the athlete was born with natural talent? 

Regardless if you are an athlete or not, accepting defeat and learning from past experiences is a part of growing and learning. 

While the past may not define you, the past does shape you and your future decisions and goals. 

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