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Betty Cuthbert dies, aged 79

Betty Cuthbert dies, aged 79

Betty Cuthbert, a sprinter and four-time Olympic gold medalist has died at the age of 79 from multiple sclerosis.

She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis five years later and bravely fought the disease for nearly fifty years.

Cuthbert, who set nine world records during her career, was the first Australian to win triple gold.

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

Cuthbert was dubbed the "Golden Girl" in Australia after her starring role as an 18-year-old at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, where she won the 100-200 double and anchored Australia's winning 4x100-meter relay team.

"She loved the country and we loved her".

Cuthbert suffered a hamstring injury at the 1960 Olympics but came back to win a fourth gold medal in the 400×100 relay at the Tokyo Games in 1964.

Cuthbert was born in Sydney's western suburbs in 1938, a twin with sister Marie, and grew up in suburban of Ermington. "She was just a great person".

One of Australia's greatest Olympians, Cuthbert was the country's first athlete inducted into the global track and field federation's Hall of Fame.

He remembers bursting with pride after listening on the radio as Cuthbert claimed victory in the first Olympic women's 400m.

"It's a very sad day, there's no doubt about it", Freeman said of Cuthbert's death.

"Betty was the Golden Girl of the track and a national heroine". Only Ian Thorpe's five Olympic gold beats Cuthbert's tally.

"Rest in peace Betty Cuthbert - an inspiration and a champion on and off the track", he posted on his official Twitter account. Sydney 2000 Olympic Champion Cathy Freeman was one of those to follow in the esteemed footsteps of the sporting legend.

Among her many honours, Betty was named a Legend of Australian sport, made a Member of the Order of Australia and has an MS therapy and education centre named in her honour at MS Australia's office in Perth. By her mid-fifties, she was confined to a wheelchair and said that said she felt as though a "dark cloud" had crossed her path.

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