U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Bob Corker (R-TN) today recognized the Tennessee athletes who will be competing in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
“It’s great to see so many Tennesseans headed to the Olympics this summer,” Alexander said. “They are a testament to the determination and willpower the people of the Volunteer State are known for, and we should all stand behind them as they compete for our country and our state. I look forward to watching them and wish them the best in the Summer Games.”
“I join with Tennesseans across the state in congratulating the dedication of these athletes,” Corker said. “We are very proud of their accomplishments and look forward to watching them compete in Beijing.”
Tennessee has a long tradition of sending athletes to the Olympic Games to compete for our country. In addition to congratulating this year’s Olympic athletes from Tennessee, the senators remembered former Olympic athlete, Wilma Rudolph, from Clarksville, TN.
“Wilma Rudolph was winning Olympic medals and making herself known as the fastest woman in the world back when I was running track at Vanderbilt,” Alexander said. “She was amazing to watch and serves as a great role model for all athletes – a Tennessean who we will always be proud of.”
“Many people across the country have heard of Wilma Rudolph and her historic gold medals in the 1960 Olympics, but few know of her dedication to improving the lives of her fellow Tennesseans,” Corker said. “Wilma Rudolph’s determination and perseverance both on and off the field are an example to all.”
At the 1960 Rome Olympic Games, Wilma Rudolph became the first American woman to win three gold medals in one Olympics. She won two individual gold medals for the 100- and 200-meter races and one team gold medal for the 4 x 100-meter relay on a team made of up of Tennessee women. These three gold medals made her famous, but the accomplishments she achieved upon returning to Tennessee are equally special.
When she returned to Tennessee, Governor Buford Ellington called for a welcome home celebration in honor of Ms. Rudolph’s accomplishments. Wilma Rudolph refused to attend if the event was segregated, and as a result, she inspired the first racially integrated event held in Clarksville, TN. She continued to promote racial equality and athletics until her death.
The Olympic Committee has announced the following Tennesseans who will be competing in the 2008 Olympic Games which begin on August 8 in Beijing, China:
Monica Abbott Knoxville Softball
Hazel Clarke Knoxville Athletics
Thomas Pappas Knoxville Athletics
Candace Parker Knoxville Basketball
De’Hashia Trotter Knoxville Athletics
Keeley Dowling Knoxville Soccer
Wesley Hodges Ooltewah Baseball
Casey Weathers Nashville Baseball