Beethoven composed some of the world’s best music. His handicap? He was deaf. One of the world’s greatest leaders was US President Franklin D. Roosevelt. His handicap? He served from a wheelchair.
Wilma Rudolph was born into a poor home in Tennessee. At age four, a double pneumonia and scarlet fever left her paralyzed with polo. She had to wear a brace and the doctors said she would never walk again. But her mother encouraged her; she told Wilma that with God-given ability, persistence and faith, she could do anything she wanted. Wilma said, “I want to be the fastest woman on the track on this earth.” At age nine, against the doctors’ advice, she removed the brace and took the first step the doctors said she never would. At age 13, she entered her first race and came out last. She entered the second race and third and fourth, she kept coming out last until one day, she came out first.
At the age of 15, she went to Tennessee State University and met a coach names Ed Temple. She told him “I want to be the fastest woman on the track on this earth.” Temple said, “With your spirit, nobody can stop you and besides, I will help you.”
The day came. She was at the Olympics where you are matched with the best of the very best. Wilma was matched against Jutta Heine who had never been beaten. The first event was the 100meter race. Wilma beat Jutta and won her first Olympic gold medal. The second event was the 200meter race and for the second time, Wilma beat Jutta to claim the second gold medal. The third event was the 400meter relay and she was again racing against Jutta. In the relay, the fastest person always ran the last lap and they both anchored their teams. The first three people ran and changed baton easily. When it was Wilma’s turn, she dropped the baton. But Wilma saw Jutta shooting off; she picked up the baton, ran like a machine, beat Jutta again and for the third time, claimed the gold medal.
History was made. A paralytic woman became the world’s fastest woman on the earth at the 1960 Olympics.
One of the greatest injustice anyone can do to his destiny is to have a fatalistic approach to destiny and to accept the forces of limitation. Great men realize that to become achievers, one has to become a master at the act of turning scars into stars. Henry David Thoreau said; “What a man thinks of himself; that is what determines, or rather indicates, his fate.”
Never accept limitation. That is a recipe for achievers that never fail to hit the mark.
© Oluwafisayo Akinlolu, 2007.