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Nashville, Tenn. - In the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Tennessee State University Hall of Famer and highly recognized Tigerbelle, Wilma Rudolph, became the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field during a single Olympic Game.
Despite running with a sprained ankle at the time, she became a track and field champion in the 100, 200 (world record holder) and 4x100 relay elevating women's track to a major presence in the United States.
After a premature birth, Rudolph's challenges through the early stages of her life included infantile paralysis and scarlet fever. With her many physical perils while growing up in a segregated South, it is some time hard to gather that one person overcame such overwhelming odds.
It is not difficult to admit that someone who has prevailed through her probabilities with such grand achievements serves as an inspiration. Even more than ten years after her death; Rudolph continues to inspire.
ABC Network's Good Morning America anchor Juju Chang was personally inspired and selected Rudolph's life story to join fellow anchors, Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos, Bill Weir and Sam Champion for the "Be Inspired" series.
The series began on Monday, May 17th, and will end Friday, May 21st, Chang's piece on Rudolph aired Thursday, May 20th.
While reading a book about historical figures to one of her sons, Chang came across the story of Wilma Rudolph. To Chang, it was pretty extraordinary considering how Rudolph got her start in life. Her parents were told she would likely never be able to walk properly because of childhood polio, but she went on to become the fastest woman in the world.
"My son brought home a book from the school library and it opened up the inspiring world of Wilma Rudolph," said Chang. "My son and I wept reading the story of a child with polio who was told she would never walk again. In the segregated South, she had to overcome poverty, racism, and near fatal illness to become the fastest woman in the world."
Chang traveled to Tennessee State to talk to Rudolph's former track coach Ed Temple, as well as the current coach of the women's track and field team Chandra Cheeseborough-Guice (mentored by Wilma) about the inspirational runner, who has since become a favorite of Chang and her son.
"Coming to Tennessee State made me realize what I've always known, that great historical figures always have a catalyst," Chang added. "For Wilma, that was Coach Ed Temple without whom she never would have made history."