Golden Girl honoured

Betty Cuthbert and her twin sister Marie Johnston at the park named in Betty’s honour. Picture: Jon Hewson www.communitypix.com.au d414913
Betty Cuthbert and her twin sister Marie Johnston at the park named in Betty’s honour. Picture: Jon Hewson www.communitypix.com.au d414913

Betty Cuthbert, then 18, won gold in the 100 and 200 metres and 400-metre relay at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.

In her heat of the blue ribbon 100-metre dash, Cuthbert set an Olympic record of 11.4 seconds while world record-holding West Australian, the late Shirley Strickland de la Hunty, was eliminated.

The New South Wales-born Cuthbert, a Mandurah resident for more than 20 years, won the 400 metres at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964.

She has won more gold medals than any other Australian in Olympic history and set many records, also helping Australian relay teams set world records.

Cuthbert was one of the bearers of the Olympic torch at the opening ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics and carried it in the stadium before Cathy Freeman lit the flame.

But despite her incredible achievements on the track, Cuthbert has beaten even tougher challenges in her private life.

In her late 30s she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and dedicated much of her life to raising awareness of the disease that affects the nervous system and can interfere with the transmission of nerve impulses in the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.

Her battle was recognised in the naming of a new therapy room at MS Australia’s Sydney office.