Aussie Olympic leg­end Betty Cuth­bert dead

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Aus­tralian Olympic icon Betty Cuth­bert, the only ath­lete to ever win gold in the 100m, 200m, and 400m, has died aged 79 af­ter a long bat­tle with mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis, of­fi­cials said yes­ter­day. Cuth­bert 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.

She suf­fered a ham­string in­jury at the Rome Games four years later and briefly re­tired, be­fore be­ing coaxed back to the track to win the 400m at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. Dur­ing her ca­reer, she set nine world records, four of them in 1958, and re­mains the only ath­lete, male or fe­male, to win Olympic gold in the 100m, 200m and 400m.

Swim­mer Ian Thorpe is the only Aus­tralian to claim more Olympic gold medals, with five. “Betty was the Golden Girl of the track and a na­tional hero­ine,” said Aus­tralian Olympic Com­mit­tee pres­i­dent John Coates. “It’s very sad to lose such a great cham­pion. Betty bat­tled her ill­ness for many years and showed tremen­dous courage, but more im­por­tantly she al­ways man­aged to smile.”

Ath­let­ics Aus­tralia pres­i­dent Mark Ar­bib called her “in­spir­ing”. “She is the only ath­lete, male or fe­male, to win Olympic gold in the 100m, 200m and 400m, with her tro­phy cab­i­net also in­clud­ing three medals from the Com­mon­wealth Games,” he said.

“She will be for­ever re­mem­bered as a leg­end of the sport and a trail­blazer for our fe­male ath­letes.” Born in Syd­ney, she moved to West Aus­tralia in later life af­ter be­ing di­ag­nosed with mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis in 1969, which con­fined to a wheel­chair. She re­turned to the spot­light in 2000 when she took part in the cer­e­mony to light the caul­dron at the Syd­ney Olympic Games. Cuth­bert was an in­au­gu­ral mem­ber of the Ath­let­ics Aus­tralia Hall of Fame and she was in­ducted into the IAAF Hall of Fame in 2012.

“Rest in peace Betty Cuth­bert-an in­spi­ra­tion and a cham­pion on and off the track,” tweeted Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull, while fel­low track leg­end Cathy Free­man said: “Thank you for the in­spi­ra­tional mem­o­ries, Betty Cuth­bert.” —AFP

SYD­NEY: In this file photo dated Fri­day, Sept 15, 2000, the 1956 sprint cham­pion Betty Cuth­bert who is con­fined to a wheel­chair with Mul­ti­ple Scle­ro­sis, waves as she is pushed by three-time sil­ver medal win­ner Rae­lene Boyle as they carry the Olympic torch dur­ing the open­ing cer­e­mony of the 2000 Olympics in Syd­ney. Betty Cuth­bert, the only run­ner to win Olympic gold medals in the 100, 200 and 400-me­ter sprints, has died in Western Aus­tralia, aged 79. — AP

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