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Four-Time Gold Medallist Betty Cuthbert Dies Aged 79

The Olympic champion has died after a long illness.

07/08/2017 8:42 AM AEST | Updated 07/08/2017 4:48 PM AEST
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Cuthbert is the only person, man or woman, to win a gold Olympic medal in all three sprinting events (100m, 200m and 400m).

Four-time Olympic gold medallist Betty Cuthbert has died aged 79 after a long illness.

Cuthbert had multiple sclerosis and had been confined to a wheelchair for many years.

Cuthbert was the original Australian athlete to earn the now common moniker "Golden Girl", courtesy of her incredible performance at our first home Olympics in Melbourne in 1956, when she won gold medals in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay.

Here's the video of Cuthbert winning the 100 and 200 in her trademark high-kneed running style.

Cuthbert would also play a part at Australia's next home Olympics, 44 years later, when she was one of the final athletes to bear the torch before Cathy Freeman was handed cauldron-lighting duties at the Sydney 2000 Opening Ceremony.

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She was wheeled out by fellow Olympic sprinter Raelene Boyle at the Opening Ceremony

Cuthbert retired after the Rome 1960 Olympics, but returned to the track, first for the 1962 Commonwealth Games where she won relay gold. She then focused on the 400m, and went on to win gold in the 400m sprint at the Tokyo 1964 Olympics.

Cuthbert remains the only person -- male or female -- to win Olympic gold in all three sprinting events (100m, 200m and 400m).

Those three gold medals put her on par with Ian Thorpe, the athlete many regard as Australia's greatest Olympian, in terms of gold medals won in individual races (i.e not relays).

Cuthbert was born in the western Sydney suburb of Merrylands, the year Sydney hosted the Empire Games -- as the Commonwealth Games were then known. She moved to Western Australia several decades ago and lived in Mandurah, south of Perth.

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