Betty Cuthbert, Australia's four-time Olympic gold medallist, dies at 79

Betty Cuthbert, the only runner to win Olympic gold medals in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter sprints, has died following a long battle with multiple sclerosis.

Having set a new Olympic record in the heats of 11.4 seconds, she claimed gold in the 100m before also taking out the 200m event.

Cuthbert was an inaugural member of the Athletics Australia Hall of Fame and she was inducted into the IAAF Hall of Fame in 2012.

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

"Betty was tragically diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1969 and she has battled the disease courageously".

Marlene Mathews finished in third behind Cuthbert in both the 100m and 200m events in 1956 and remembers her fondly.

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

Cuthbert was injured during the 1960 Olympics and then retired for 18 months before returning to competition and winning the gold medal in the 400 at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo.

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

"She always regarded that single gold medal of 1964 as a far greater triumph than any of her three in 1956".

"She was one of the best we've ever seen compete for Australia and she inspires athletes to this day when they put on the national uniform."

Tributes have continued to flow for Cuthbert from the athletics world and beyond.

"Betty was an icon of Australian and global athletics and it is with great sadness that we learned of her passing this morning", stated Arbib.

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

"I'm so happy I got to meet such a tremendous and gracious role model, and Olympic Champion". She was the first Australian to win triple Olympic gold. Only Ian Thorpe's five Olympic gold beats Cuthbert's tally.

"Rest in Peace Betty Cuthbert - an inspiration and a champion on and off the track", Turnbull said.

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

  • Angelo Rivera