Wilma Rudolph was a sprinter who, in 1960, became the first female American track and field athlete to win three gold medals at a single Olympics. Rudolph retired from track at age 22 and later became a teacher and a civil rights and women's rights activist.
At the 1960 Olympics in Rome, Rudolph won the 100-meter dash and became widely known as the fastest woman in the world. Her time was faster than the world record, but authorities did not give her the world record because the wind was slightly too fast.
As a child, Rudolph lost the use of her left leg due to pneumonia, scarlet fever and polio. She worked to overcome the disability and was able to remove her leg braces after three years.