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

Aubrey Yates
August 8, 2017

Legendary Australian Olympian, Betty Cuthbert, has died at the age of 79 after a long battle with multiple sclerosis.

After being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 1979, she spent much of her later life in a wheelchair as the disease took its toll.

During her running career, Cuthbert set records for the 600m and 200m, as well as the 100-yard, 220-yard and 440-yard dashes.

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

Cuthbert went on to win gold in the 400m event at the 1954 Tokyo Olympic Games.

"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 shot to fame as a little-known 18-year-old at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, winning the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay, earning her the nickname "Golden Girl" by local media.

Betty Cuthbert doing what she loved most.

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Betty Cuthbert competing at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. 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.

Elizabeth "Betty" Cuthbert was born in Sydney on April 20, 1938, a twin to her sister Marie.

She was notable for her distinctive approach to her sport, sprinting with her mouth wide open and lifting her knees high. She remains the only Australian non-swimmer to win four or more gold medals.

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.

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

Cuthbert was the first Australian to be inducted into the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Hall of Fame upon its creation in 2012 alongside Carl Lewis, Jesse Owens and others. Sydney 2000 Olympic Champion Cathy Freeman was one of those to follow in the esteemed footsteps of the sporting legend.

"I'm so happy I got to meet such a tremendous and gracious role model". "I've had some twinges this morning", said Gosper.

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