Athletics: Tributes for Betty Cuthbert

'Golden Girl' Betty Cuthbert dies, aged 79

"Betty was the "Golden Girl" of the track and a national heroine", said AOC President John Coates.

"Betty was an icon of Australian and global athletics and it is with great sadness that we learned of her passing this morning", stated Arbib.

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has extended its "condolences to the Cuthbert family, her friends, her carer Rhonda Gillam and a nation that idolised the track great".

"A fitting tribute to one of the greatest to ever compete", Athletics Australia tweeted.

Cuthbert broke onto the Olympic scene in Melbourne in 1956, claiming three gold medals on home soil in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m replay.

Among her many honours, Betty was named a Legend of Australian sport, made a Member of the Order of Australia and has an MS therapy and education centre named in her honour at MS Australia's office in Perth.

"I realised from a very early age that God gave me a gift, and that gift was to run, and I wanted to use it to the best of my ability", she said. She was one of the inaugural inductees to the IAAF Hall of Fame in 2012.

Cuthbert set four world records in 1958, but injury was to hamper her campaign at the 1960 Olympics in Rome and she retired for 18 months immediately afterwards.

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Betty Cuthbert doing what she loved most.

"I once as asked Betty how she would like to be remembered and she said "I never want to be forgotten.' Her triumphs on the athletic track will make sure she will always be remembered as the 'Golden Girl" of 1956 and the wonderful comeback to win the 400m in Tokyo in 1964".

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

At Athens 2004, swimmer Ian Thorpe became the only Australian to have more gold medals than Cuthbert with five.

"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".

JANA PITTMAN, two-time 400m hurdles world champion (told Fox Sports): "She was an icon for our sport".

"It was the only ideal race I have ever run", she later said of that victory.

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