Once dubbed Australia’s “golden girl” by the media after winning both the 100m and 200m events at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics at 18 years of age, Betty Cuthbert lost her battle to multiple sclerosis yesterday.
Cuthbert set multiple world records throughout her career for 60m, 200m, 100 yards, 220 yards and 440 yards.
At the Rome Games in 1960, she suffered a hamstring injury and was eliminated from the 100m heats, retiring from track and field shortly after.
Her retirement didn’t last long though, as she reemerged to help her relay team attain gold in the 4x100m event at the 1962 Perth Commonwealth Games, and later placed first in the 400m at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964.
She subsequently became a torchbearer at the Sydney Olympics, where fellow friend and sprinter Raelene Boyle accompanied her and pushed her wheelchair during the ceremony.
Sydney-born Cuthbert had multiple sclerosis since 1969 and passed away in Western Australian, where she’d been residing since 1991. She dedicated much of her later life to raising awareness for the disease.
Tributes to the fallen athlete have been pouring in over recent hours.
Boyle, referring to Cuthbert’s professional success and how she handled worldwide recognition, told ABC News that “a lot of athletes today could take a great deal of learning out of the way she did it.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called Cuthbert an “inspiration and a champion on and off the track.”
She was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1985. Chairman of Sport Australia, John Bertrand, described her as “a true inspiration and role model to all Australians. Her feats on the track brought together Australians as one.”