Olympic gold medalist Betty Cuthbert offered state funeral

Olympic gold medalist Betty Cuthbert offered state funeral

"Athletics Australia, and indeed the Australian athletics community, extend our most honest condolences to Betty's family and friends, including her dedicated carer Rhonda Gillam, at this sad time".

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

"On the track in 1956 in Melbourne she joined a special band of athletes who started what we call the "golden era" in Australian sport, Betty was a member of a unique band of athletes who inspired thousands of Australians", Coates said.

"Even to catch a ball, I opened my mouth".

Cuthbert won three gold medals at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics in the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m relays at the age of 18. She failed to advance in the 100m and was forced to withdraw from the 200m.

She was born in the Sydney suburb of Merrylands in 1938. She'd bought some tickets to attend the Games as a spectator because she wasn't certain she'd qualify for the team.

It was there, she claimed her fourth and final Olympic gold medal after running a flawless 400m final. "It was this faith that kept her going for so long and through the most hard times".

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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.

"Betty battled her illness for many years and showed tremendous courage, but more importantly she always managed to smile". By her mid-fifties, she was confined to a wheelchair and said that said she felt as though a "dark cloud" had crossed her path.

Channel Nine reports the beloved athlete was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1969 and dedicated much of her life to raising awareness for the disease.

She asked if they could sit down for a chat. "Think of what you can do".

"She will be forever remembered as a legend of the sport and a trailblazer for our female athletes".

Trengove only hours before learning of Cuthbert's death had finished ninth in the marathon in London - the best result by an Australian woman at a world championship.

Kevan Gosper is proud to have played a small part in Betty Cuthbert's remarkable success at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics in a moment which forged a lifelong bond between the pair.

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