Wilma Rudolph

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 3
Silver 0
Bronze 1
Total 4
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameWilma Glodean•Rudolph (-Ward, -Eldridge)
Used nameWilma•Rudolph
Nick/petnamesBlack Gazelle, Black Pearl, Skeeter
Born23 June 1940 in Saint Bethlehem, Tennessee (USA)
Died12 November 1994 in Brentwood, Tennessee (USA)
Measurements180 cm / 59 kg
AffiliationsTSU Tigers, Nashville (USA)
NOC United States


Wilma Rudolph was the first US woman to win the Olympic sprint double, adding gold in the 4x100 relay. As the 17th child in a family of 18, she contracted polio as an infant and was unable to walk properly until she was 11. As a 16-year-old she went to the 1956 Olympics and, although eliminated in the preliminaries of the 200 m, won a bronze medal in the relay. Over the next four years she developed into the world’s fastest sprinter and in July 1960 she set a world record of 22.9 for 200 m and added the 100 m record in winning the Olympic title in 11.3. The following season she equalled her 100 m record in Moscow and, four days later, in Stuttgart, lowered it to 11.2. At the 1959 Pan American Games she won gold with the 4×100 m relay team (with Isabelle Daniels, Barbara Jones, and Lucinda Williams) and silver in the 100 m. Rudolph won the AAU 100 m for four successive years from 1959 and in 1960 she added the 200 m. She also won three AAU indoor titles.

Rudolph was known to the Europeans as “The Black Gazelle”, both for her speed and her beauty. She made a great impact on women’s athletics in the USA by both her performances and her promotional work on behalf of women’s sports. She formed her own company, the Wilma Rudolph Foundation, that worked with underprivileged children and sponsors athletic competition for children in Indianapolis. Unfortunately, she died rather young from a brain tumor.

Personal Bests: 100 – 11.41 (1960); 200 – 22.9 (1960).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1956 Summer Olympics Athletics USA Wilma Rudolph
200 metres, Women (Olympic) 3 h2 r1/3
4 × 100 metres Relay, Women (Olympic) United States 3 Bronze
1960 Summer Olympics Athletics USA Wilma Rudolph
100 metres, Women (Olympic) 1 Gold
200 metres, Women (Olympic) 1 Gold
4 × 100 metres Relay, Women (Olympic) United States 1 Gold

Special Notes