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Olympic champion Betty Cuthbert dies aged 79

Aug 08, 2017, 00:11
Olympic champion Betty Cuthbert dies aged 79

The legacy of Betty Cuthbert was still keenly felt by every athlete to wear the green and gold, especially those competing now in London at the world championships who were moved to learn of the death of Australia's greatest athlete, Jess Trengove said.

Cuthbert was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1969 and had spent much of the latter part of her life confined to a wheelchair, but not before she became the only athlete to have won the Olympic 100, 200 and 400 metres titles.

Her first place finishes came in the 100m, 200m and the 4x100m.

In 1985 Cuthbert was elected into the Australian Sports Hall of Fame.

She returned to the public eye when the Olympic Games were hosted by her home town of Sydney in 2000 and was one of the bearers of the Olympic flame at the opening ceremony.

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"Betty battled her illness for many years and showed tremendous courage, but more importantly she always managed to smile", Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates said in a statement.

"She loved her nation".

Cuthbert burst onto the scene at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne as an 18-year-old.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and a vast array of Olympic athletes paid tribute to Cuthbert, who was born in western Sydney in 1938.

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

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He remembers bursting with pride after listening on the radio as Cuthbert claimed victory in the first Olympic women's 400m.

Among her many honours, Betty was named a Legend of Australian sport, made a Member of the Order of Australia and has an MS therapy and education centre named in her honour at MS Australia's office in Perth.

"It's very sad to lose such a great champion". She was one of the inaugural inductees to the IAAF Hall of Fame in 2012.

He was 23 at the time, while Cuthbert - who died in Australia overnight - was just 18.

Dual world champion 400m hurdler Jana Pittman described Cuthbert as Australia's best. "I'm so happy I got to meet such a tremendous and gracious role model, and Olympic champion". Only swimmer Ian Thorpe has won more gold medals. "I've had some twinges this morning", said Gosper.

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