“Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again.” Pr 24:16 NIV
How come failure destroys some people, yet makes others stronger? The secret is, they allow failure to become their teacher, and turn their defeats into learning experiences. Wilma Rudolph was the twentieth of twenty-two children born into a poor black family in Tennessee. As a child, she had polio and was forced to wear leg braces until she was nine. At twelve, she tried out for her school’s basketball team and failed. For the next year she practiced every day until she finally made the team. A college track coach spotted her one day and talked her into letting him train her to be a sprinter. Her persistence earned her a scholarship to Tennessee State University where she became a track star. In 1960, she made the U.S. Olympic team. In the 100-meter sprint she had to face the world record holder, Jutta Heine of Germany. But Wilma won. And she did it again in the 200-meter event. Wilma’s third race was the 100-meter relay, where she again faced Jutta. Just as the baton was handed to Wilma she dropped it, giving Jutta the lead. But her never-give-up spirit made her pick up the baton and take off in desperate pursuit. She caught the German runner in the last few strides and won the third gold medal—more than any other woman had won at that time. Wilma became a grandmother and travelled the world for children’s causes, motivating them with her story. “I let them know,” she says, “that they can achieve it, as long as they’re willing to work for it.”
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