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100 Moments: Rudolph Claims Three Gold Medals
Monday, July 30, 2012

The 100 Moments of TSU Athletics presented by Taco Bell® series continues by honoring one of the most well-known alumni in Tennessee State history.

Wilma Rudolph enrolled at TSU in 1957, a year after winning a bronze medal in the summer Olympics in Melbourne, Aus.

After starting college, the famous Tigerbelle worked with legendary coach Ed Temple in preparation of the 1960 Olympics in Rome, Ita. Temple's tough-love coaching style and Rudolph's natural ability paid off as Rudolph won three gold medals in Rome.

Rudolph won the 100-meter dash in 11 seconds flat, and it would have been a world-record had the wind not aided her.

She followed up that gold medal with a win in the 200-meter dash. Rudolph's time of 23.9 seconds became a new Olympic record.

Rudolph then became the first woman to win three gold medals in the same Olympics when she joined fellow Tigerbelles Martha Hudson, Lucinda Williams and Barbara Jones in the 400-meter relay. The team of Tigerbelles ran the event in 44.5 seconds, winning gold.

During the Olympics, Rudolph became an over-night celebrity with thousands of people coming to see her races. The local Italians revered Rudolph and called her simply, La Gazzella Negra meaning "the Black Gazelle".

In 1960, Rudolph was named the Associated Press Woman Athlete of the Year, and then received the award again a year later.

Rudolph's accomplishments even earned her a seat next to President John F. Kennedy.

She is a member of the National Black Sports and Entertainment Hall of Fame, National Track and Field Hall of Fame, U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame and National Women's Hall of Fame.

Rudolph retired as a student-athlete in 1962, choosing to become solely a student. She graduated TSU in 1963 with a bachelor's degree in elementary education.

Watch Rudolph's historic 100 and 200-meter dashes here:

The 100 Moments of TSU Athletics presented by Taco Bell® highlights some of the greatest moments in honor of Tennessee State's centennial celebration. A new moment will be released each weekday for a total of 100. These moments were chosen by the TSU 100 Moments committee, which consists of alums from various departments. TSU has so many great moments, not all can be represented in these 100.

Sports Information Assistant Alex Mitchell contributed to this article.