Australia's most successful track Olympian dies aged 79

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-07 12:16:02|Editor: An
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CANBERRA, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- Betty Cuthbert, Australia's most successful Olympic track and field athlete, has passed away aged 79.

Cuthbert, dubbed the "Golden Girl" of Australian athletics, won gold medals in the 100 and 200-meter sprints as well as the 4x100 meter relay at the Melbourne Olympics in 1956 aged just 18.

Eight years later, in Tokyo, she became the only person in history to have won Olympic gold over 100, 200 and 400 meters. She remains the only Australian non-swimmer to win four or more gold medals.

Cuthbert was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 1979 and spent much of her later life in a wheelchair as the disease took its toll.

Her death was announced by Athletics Australia on Monday who described her as an "Olympic legend."

"Rest in peace Betty Cuthbert - an inspiration and a champion on and off the track," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wrote on social media on Monday.

Turnbull's sentiment was echoed by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten who wrote, "Rest in peace Betty Cuthbert, forever a golden girl."

Cuthbert also competed at the 1960 Rome Olympics, but an injury meant she did not make it through the heats.

John Bertrand, chairman of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, remembered Cuthbert as a perfect role model.

"Betty was a true inspiration and role model to all Australians," Bertrand said in a statement.

Cuthbert was the first Australian to be inducted into the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Hall of Fame upon its creation in 2012 alongside Carl Lewis, Jesse Owens and others.