AUSTRALIA’S Golden Girl and Mandurah resident Betty Cuthbert has died aged 79.
Cuthbert was born in Merrylands, NSW, in 1938 and lived in Mandurah for many years.
Cuthbert won more gold medals than any other female in Australian Olympic history.
During her career, she set world records at 60m, 100 yards, 200m, 220 yards and 440 yards, and remains the only Olympian to have won gold in all sprint events. Only swimmer Ian Thorpe has won more gold medals.
She also contributed to Australian relay teams, setting world records.
In 1956 at the Melbourne Olympics, aged 18, Cuthbert won three gold medals.
She won a fourth at the Tokyo Olympics eight years later after returning from retirement.
Cuthbert was one of the bearers of the Olympic torch at the opening ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics and carried it in to the stadium before Cathy Freeman lit the flame.
She was the main guest when the Olympic torch relay passed through Mandurah in 2000.
She moved to Mandurah in 1991, where she was a familiar sight at school events. In 2014, the City of Mandurah named a Halls Head park after her.
WA Olympic Council president and Mandurah resident Greg Kaeding said the WA Olympic family was particularly saddened by the news.
“Betty was a very humble and endearing person and whilst coming to WA to escape her popularity, she gave freely of her time and support when it came to supporting aspiring athletes,” he said.
Despite her incredible achievements on the track, she beat 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 a disease. Her battle was recognised in the naming of a new therapy room at MS Australia’s Sydney office.