Australian four-time Olympic gold medallist Betty Cuthbert dead at 79

Australian four-time Olympic gold medallist Betty Cuthbert dead at 79

Australian four-time Olympic gold medallist Betty Cuthbert dead at 79

Australian sprinter Betty Cuthbert, the only athlete to have won the Olympic 100m, 200m and 400 m titles, has died aged 79 after battling multiple sclerosis for almost half a century, Athletics Australia said on Monday.

Cuthbert was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1969 and was restricted to a wheelchair later in life.

She remains the only Olympic track athlete to have won the 100m, 200m and 400m and she set nine world records during her career, four of them in 1958, in the 60 metres, 100 yards, 200 metres, 220 yards and 440 yards.

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

"We were so pleased that she could participate in the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Games which was so special to her given the proximity of the Olympic Stadium to her family home in Ermington", Coates said.

"I am so sad to hear of the passing of Betty Cuthbert", she wrote.

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Born in New South Wales in 1938, Cuthbert excelled in athletics as a teenager and broke the 200 world record in 1956.

Only 18, her haul of three gold medals in one Games was unprecedented for an Australian, although swimmers Murray Rose and Dawn Fraser later matched her feat to add more gloss to the country's first Olympics.

Betty Cuthbert and her twin sister Marie Johnston at the park named in Betty's honour.

She was notable for her distinctive approach to her sport, sprinting with her mouth wide open and lifting her knees high.

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

Athletics Australia on Monday confirmed that Cuthbert died overnight in Western Australia state.

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One of Australia's greatest Olympians, Cuthbert was the country's first athlete inducted into the worldwide track and field federation's Hall of Fame.

In 1956 she became the first Australian to win triple Olympic gold.

"I once as asked Betty how she would like to be remembered and she said "I never want to be forgotten.' Her triumphs on the athletic track will make sure she will always be remembered as the 'Golden Girl" of 1956 and the wonderful comeback to win the 400m in Tokyo in 1964".

"I'm so happy I got to meet such a tremendous and gracious role model, and Olympic Champion".

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull led tributes on social media calling the runner an "inspiration and a champion on and off the track".

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

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