Perseverance Pays Off – Part Fourteen

Wilma Rudolph was born in a poor family at four and a half pounds.

At age four she contracted polio, Scarlet fever, and pneumonia. Her doctor said she would never walk. Over long months of struggle she learned to hobble with a brace. Still her left leg limited that. Her caring mother lovingly urged her on. With courage and perseverance she learned to run, not only to run, but to run fast.

Her mother had a deep Christian faith and taught her that God had a purpose in her life saying, “Honey, you have to believe in God and never give up hope.”

At age 16 she made the Olympic team. Folks in her hometown made up money for her to go to Melbourn, Australia. She lost her first race, the 200 meter, but her relay team won the bronze, her first Olympic medal. 

Four years later, Wilma was back. At the 1969 Olympics in Rome, Italy, her speed was legendary. People would say, “Don’t blink or you will miss her.”

During the 100 meter race, the crowd began screaming. Wilma looked behind her. She was way ahead of everyone. When the race ended Willma had won her first gold medal.

The relay race wasn’t so easy. Wilma dropped the baton as it was handed to her. She saw runners race ahead of her. With a great burst of speed, Wilma caught up with all of them and sped by them. Wilma had won her third gold medal.

Wilma died on November 12, 1994, but she still inspires people today. Each year the Women’s Sports Foundation gives the Wilma Rudolph Courage Award to a woman athlete who shows the kind of strength Wilma had.

Wilma was an avid reader of the Bible and a follower of Jesus to whom she gave praise. Of her struggles and successes she said, “Believe me, the reward is not so great without the struggle.”

As you struggle, and we all do, consider it a part being used by the Lord to make you stronger spiritually.

“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40: 31)