“Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Everyone must overcome circumstances. Circumstances are simply a fact of life. Unfortunately, too many people use circumstances as an excuse. “I can never do that because (insert excuse here) [I was born poor, I’m not well-educated, I’m in poor health, I was molested as a child, I have six toes on one foot, etc.]. If you look hard enough, you can always find a reason why you can’t do something. The important thing is to keep looking until you find a reason why you can do that thing.
Wilma was born prematurely at a time when medical advances were not very successful at stabilizing a 4.5 lb infant. Wilma did survive her premature birth, but the cards were certainly stacked against her. Born into a southern black family in the 1940’s, the 20th of 22 children, most would consider Wilma’s circumstances and outlook for the future to be quite dim. That outlook worsened even more when at the age of 4, Wilma contracted infantile paralysis, caused by the polio virus. She did recover, but did wear a brace on her twisted left leg until age 9. In addition, by the time she was twelve, Wilma had also suffered through severe bouts of scarlet fever, measles, whopping cough and chickenpox.
All her life, Wilma had watched one of her older sisters play basketball. Given the many afflictions she had suffered, Wilma’s own dream of one day following in her sister’s footsteps seemed unreachable. What would you have done? Would you have given up on your dream as being ‘unrealistic’? Would you have listened to the many “well-meaning” critics that told you to focus on something less challenging?
Wilma held on to her dreams. As von Goethe suggested, she believed in herself. In 1952, at age 12, Wilma realized her dream and played organized basketball for the first time. But not only did she play it, she excelled at it. At a high school basketball game her sophomore year, Wilma was spotted by a coach from the University of Tennessee. He would eventually recruit her on a scholarship, but not before she set scoring records and led her high school basketball team to a state championship.
At the University of Tennessee, Coach Temple changed Wilma’s focus to track and field. At the age of 20, Wilma represented the United States at the Rome Olympic Games and brought home 3 gold medals; the 100 meter, 200 meter and 4 x 100 meter relay. Wilma Rudolph, the little girl who had been born prematurely, battled polio and other afflictions, became known at the time as the fastest woman on earth.
As the 2012 Olympic Games approach, there is no doubt there will be new stories of inspiration that will come to light. There will be others who believe in the magic of themselves and who will make it happen. What is there in your life that you have given up on? The magic is still there. Like the Olympic flame, it never goes out completely. It just needs to be fueled into a raging inferno, and you are the only one that can do that. Believe in yourself. If you do that, you can make anything happen.
- 10 quotes from Olympic medalist Wilma Rudolph (csmonitor.com)
- Happy Birthday, Wilma Rudolph!!! (kidzrockinc.co)