Published: Tue, August 08, 2017
Sports | By Phillip Butler

Australia's greatest track athlete, Betty Cuthbert, had died

Australia's greatest track athlete, Betty Cuthbert, had died

Betty Cuthbert, a four-time Olympic champion and one of Australia's greatest ever athletes, has died.

Cuthbert's Olympic defence was cruelled by injury and she retired for two years, only to return and claim 400m gold at the 1964 Tokyo Games in what she regarded as her greatest triumph.

Known for her distinctive running style, with her mouth agape and high knees, Cuthbert set 16 world records in her career, setting the bar in the 60m, 100 yards, 200m, 220 yards, 440 yards and 4x100m relay.

Cuthbert was an inaugural inductee to the IAAF Hall of Fame, and is also a member of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame and the Athletics Australia Hall of Fame.

In 2000 Cuthbert was one of the torch bearers at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Sydney.

JOHN COATES, Australian Olympic Committee president - "Betty battled her illness for many years and showed tremendous courage, but more importantly she always managed to smile".

Dubbed the "Golden Girl" of Australian athletics, Cuthbert won gold medals in the 100 and 200-meter sprints as well as the 4x100 meter relay at the Melbourne Olympics in 1956 aged just 18. She was moved and saddened by Cuthbert's death.

Cuthbert is the only Olympian, male or female, to win gold in all sprint events.

Cuthbert was born in Sydney's western suburbs in 1938, a twin with sister Marie, and grew up in suburban of Ermington.

"She just needed to talk to a fatherly figure and that cemented a huge friendship that has continued right through between us".

"It's a very sad day, there's no doubt about it. Betty is an inspiration and her story will continue to inspire Australian athletes for generations to come", Freeman said. She remains the only Australian non-swimmer to win four or more gold medals.

Tributes have flowed for the former star, who has been remembered as a champion on and off the track.

Australian sporting legend Betty Cuthbert has passed away at the age of 79.

MALCOLM TURNBULL, Prime Minister - "Rest in peace Betty Cuthbert - an inspiration and a champion on and off the track".

"It was the only ideal race I have ever run", she later said of that victory.

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