​September 7, 1960: Wilma Rudolph Makes Olympic History

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At the Summer Olympics in Rome, Wilma Rudolph became the 1st American woman to win 3 gold medals in a single Olympic Game. 

She took 1st place in both the 100-meter and 200-meter dash and she ran the anchor in the 4×100 relay. Graceful, fast and slender, the powerful sprinter emerged from the 1960 Rome Olympics as “The Tornado,” the fastest woman on earth.

Wilma Rudolph competed in two Olympic Games, in 1956 and in 1960. She opened the door for women to compete in previously all-male track and field events. 

The Italians nicknamed her La Gazzella Negra (“The Black Gazelle”); to the French she was La Perle Noire (“The Black Pearl”).

She is one of the most famous Tennessee State University Tigerbelles, the name of the TSU women’s track and field program.

A track and field champion, she elevated women’s track to a major presence in the United States. 

She is also regarded as a civil rights and women’s rights pioneer. Along with other 1960 Olympic athletes such as Cassius Clay, who later became Muhammad Ali, Rudolph became an international star due to the first international television coverage of the Olympics that year.

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