OLYMPIC champions, national and international sports stars, church members, media and sports personalities, and politicians were among the more than 450 people who flew in from as far afield as Japan for the funeral of ‘Golden Girl’ Betty Cuthbert at Mandurah Performing Arts Centre today.
After film was run of the 1956 Melbourne Olympics in which Cuthbert won three gold medals, a candle was lit by Cuthbert’s twin sister Marie Johnston and described by celebrant Kevin Clune as reminiscent of the warmth the Olympic legend always had for everyone.
Mr Clune said Cuthbert’s death left a big void in the hearts of those close to her and she would be missed by many for far more reasons than her sporting prowess.
He said Cuthbert had met her carer and long time friend Rhonda Gillam through the church and the depth of their friendship was beyond words.
“Your race has been won and we will never forget you,’’ her nephew Peter Johnston said.
Cuthbert also wrote poetry and her poem Today as I Climbed the Hills was read by her twin Marie Johnston.
Speakers included Olympic swimmer Dawn Fraser, International Olympic Committee vice-president John Coates, Pastor Phil Ayres of Mandurah’s Christian Life Centre, Rhonda Gillam and sports commentator Bruce McAvaney.
After a high tea, flowers were scattered on the water outside the centre in memory of the legendary athlete.