Mandurah's golden girl Betty Cuthbert dies at 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.

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

Eight years later in Tokyo, she became the only person in history to have won Olympic gold in 100, 200 and 400 meters.

"Betty battled her illness for many years and showed tremendous courage, but more importantly she always managed to smile".

Her lunge at the line in the 100m final at the Melbourne Olympics, her mouth wide open and blonde hair streaming behind her, is perpetuated in a bronze statue outside the Melbourne Cricket Ground, scene of her 1956 track and field glory.

Cuthbert is the only Olympian, male or female, to win gold in all sprint events.

Cuthbert was born in Merrylands, NSW, in 1938 and lived in Mandurah for many years.

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

Elizabeth Cuthbert was an inaugural inductees of the IAAF Hall of Fame in 2012 in Barcelona.

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Betty Cuthbert, one of the greatest track athletes the world has seen has died.

The Australian Olympic Committee said an example of Cuthbert's humility was how she prepared for the first Olympics staged in Australia.

And 400m champion Cathy Freeman.

"It's a very sad day, there's no doubt about it", said Freeman. "I'm so happy I got to meet such a tremendous and gracious role model, and Olympic champion".

Shorten, likewise, said Cuthbert would "forever be a golden girl".

Swimmer Ian Thorpe is the only Australian to claim more Olympic gold medals, with five.

"Rest in peace Betty Cuthbert - an inspiration and a champion on and off the track", he wrote on Twitter. "I think there is a reason why I have MS and that is to inspire other people who are suffering from the disease", she said.

Having being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1969, the track star passed away in Perth aged 79.

  • Lawrence Cooper