Cuthbert, who won Olympic gold in 100, 200 and 400, has died

Australian sprinter Betty Cuthbert, the only athlete to have won the Olympic 100m, 200m and 400 m titles, has died aged 79 after battling multiple sclerosis for almost half a century, Athletics Australia said on Monday.

Athletics Australia President, Mark Arbib, has made the following comments about the "Golden Girl" of the track, who died at age 79.

"It's very sad to lose such a great champion".

"Betty was a legend of the sport and Team Australia extends our sympathies to her family and friends at this sad time", she said.

JANE FLEMMING, two-time Commonwealth games gold medallist (told Fox Sports): "I can't emphasise enough how incredible her performance was.to run the time she did to win that 400m in Tokyo".

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull led a flood of tributes to Cuthbert on Monday.

The track-star burst onto the scene at the 1956 Olympic Games as a little-known 18-year-old whose uncertainty around making the Games saw her buy tickets to attend as a spectator just in case she missed the Australian Team.

"Betty battled her illness for many years and showed tremendous courage, but more importantly she always managed to smile".

She was notable for her distinctive approach to her sport, sprinting with her mouth wide open and lifting her knees high.

She was an Olympic torch bearer at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and grew up in the city's western suburbs.

During her career, she set nine world records, four of them in 1958, and remains the only athlete, male or female, to win Olympic gold in the 100m, 200m and 400m.

"She loved the country and we loved her".

Shorten, likewise, said Cuthbert would "forever be a golden girl". Sydney 2000 Olympic Champion Cathy Freeman was one of those to follow in the esteemed footsteps of the sporting legend.

"I'm so happy I got to meet such a tremendous and gracious role model, and Olympic Champion".

At Athens 2004, swimmer Ian Thorpe became the only Australian to have more gold medals than Cuthbert with five. "I think there is a reason why I have MS and that is to inspire other people who are suffering from the disease", she said.


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