Her Roman conquest
Sept. 2, 1960 - Wilma Rudolph was one cool competitor at the Olympics in Rome. Before her semifinal heat in the 100 meters, she actually fell asleep. Then she tied the world record of 11.3 seconds.
In today's final, Rudolph got off to a relatively good start. "I came out second or third in the field, and my speed started increasing the farther I went," she said. "When I reached 50 meters, I saw that I had them all, and I was just beginning to turn it on. By 70 meters, I knew the race was mine, nobody was going to catch me."
They didn't. Rudolph blazed across the finish line in 11 seconds flat, winning by three yards. She said that she did it for Ray Norton, the sprinter with whom she had been romantically linked.
"I was heartsick when Ray was beaten in the men's 100-meter finals," Rudolph said about Norton's last-place finish. "I knew the best way to cheer him up was to win myself - and win good."
After Rudolph's triumph, the couple left the stadium arm-in-arm and they were cuddling when they reached the Olympic village.
It was announced that Rudolph had set a world record. Later in the day, it was stated officially that her mark would not be recognized because the wind was 2.752 meters per second, exceeding the allowed maximum of two meters. But that didn't detract from the performance by Rudolph, the first American woman gold medalist in the 100 meters since Helen Stephens in 1936.
Odds and ends