Published: Tue, August 08, 2017
Sport | By Fredrick Flores

Four-time Olympic champion Cuthbert dies aged 79

Four-time Olympic champion Cuthbert dies aged 79

Tributes have poured in for Australia's four-time Olympic gold medallist Betty Cuthbert, who has died aged 79.

John Bertrand, chairman of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, remembered Cuthbert as a ideal role model.

Although injury denied her further glory at the 1960 Games, she won gold in the sprint relay at the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth, before landing the 400m at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo.

Only in her thirties Betty was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease that was still relatively unknown at that time.

The track-star burst onto the scene at the 1956 Olympic Games as a little-known 18-year-old whose uncertainty around making the Games saw her buy tickets to attend as a spectator just in case she missed the Australian Team. "It was this faith that kept her going for so long and through the most hard times".

The Australian Olympic Committee is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of one of Australia's greatest ever Olympic athletes, Betty Cuthbert. Despite generations apart Cuthbert's legacy, her legend, as the only athlete man or woman to have won gold in all sprint events, lived strong in their hearts and minds.

She was born in the Sydney suburb of Merrylands in 1938. "She was just a great person".

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"It's a very sad day, there's no doubt about it", said Freeman.

MARLENE MATHEWS, Cuthbert's greatest Australian rival - "I have never met anyone that had such great faith and determination. I'm so happy I got to meet such a tremendous and gracious role model, and Olympic champion".

JANA PITTMAN, two-time 400m hurdles world champion (told Fox Sports): "She was an icon for our sport".

She passed away overnight Sunday at her home in Western Australia. Two years later, she focused on the 400 and won gold in that event at the 1964 Olympics.

Swimmer Ian Thorpe is the only Australian to claim more Olympic gold medals, with five.

"Rest in peace Betty Cuthbert - an inspiration and a champion on and off the track", tweeted Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, while fellow track legend Cathy Freeman said: "Thank you for the inspirational memories, Betty Cuthbert". By her mid-fifties, she was confined to a wheelchair and said that said she felt as though a "dark cloud" had crossed her path.

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