72° Clarksville
West Creek High's Student News Site

The Coyote Caller

The Coyote Caller

The Coyote Caller

Photo Gallery: Soccer vs. Northwest, May 9, 2024
Photo Gallery: Soccer vs. Northwest, May 9, 2024
Scott Hoskins, Journalism Adviser/Photographer • Published May 13, 2024
Photo Gallery: Soccer vs. Northwest, May 9, 2024
Photo Gallery: Soccer vs. Northwest, May 9, 2024
Scott Hoskins, Journalism Adviser/Photographer • Published May 13, 2024
Photo Gallery: JROTC @Daytona Beach Drill World Championships
Photo Gallery: JROTC @Daytona Beach Drill World Championships
Gisely Argueta, Phototgrapher • Published May 8, 2024
Exam schedule posted
Exam schedule posted
Staff ReportPublished May 8, 2024
Laptop collection day set for Thursday, May 16
Laptop collection day set for Thursday, May 16
Staff ReportPublished May 6, 2024

Clarksville’s Black History: Wilma Rudolph

Wilma Rudolph holding her Olympic medals.
Photo courtesy of Visit Clarksville website
Wilma Rudolph holding her Olympic medals.

Wilma Rudolph is inarguably the most famous athlete to emerge from Clarksville. She was born June 23, 1940, in St. Bethlehem, now a part of Clarksville. She was one of 22 children.

As a child, Rudolph developed polio and scarlet fever. This caused her to have to wear a brace on her leg. Her doctors told her and her parents that she’d never walk again, but her family never let her believe that. Because of this great care, by the time she was 11, Rudolph was playing basketball.

Rudolph became a star basketball player at the all-Black Burt High School in Clarksville. Tennessee State University track coach Ed Temple recruited her to the track team as a high schooler.

By the time she was 16, she competed in the 1956 Olympic games, winning a bronze medal in the 4×400 relay. Her greatest success, though, came four years later in the 1960 Rome games. There, she won three gold medals (100m, 200m, 4×100 relay), becoming the first American woman, white or Black, to do so. This performance earned her the title “fastest woman in the world” and “The Black Gazelle.”

She won the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year in 1961 but retired the next year to focus on her education. She graduated from TSU and began teaching at Cobb Elementary School in Clarksville; she was also the track coach at Burt High.

She eventually married and had four children.

Tragically, Rudolph was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 1994 and died on November 12, 1994, at the age of 54. She is buried at the Edgefield Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery in Clarksville.

More to Discover