VALE Olympic champion Betty Cuthbert AM MBE

August 7, 2017

Photo: Betty Cuthbert with her SCG Walk of Honour plaque in 2001
Credit: SCG Trust / Hamilton Lund

Olympic champion Elizabeth “Betty” Cuthbert AM MBE has died at the age of 79 after a lengthy battle with multiple sclerosis.

Cuthbert’s ability to break barriers extended into her post-athletic career, when she became the first female Trustee of the Sydney Cricket & Sports Ground Trust between 1978 and 1980.

“Betty Cuthbert was Australia’s original ‘golden girl’ and her achievements at the Sydney Cricket Ground and Sydney Sports Ground remain a special part of our history,” said Mr Tony Shepherd, SCG Trust Chairman.

“Cuthbert equalled or broke three world records at the Sydney Sports Ground, including 7.2 seconds for the 60m sprint in rain-sodden conditions in 1960.

“She was a remarkable talent, and set the bar for athletes around the world,” he added.

The daughter of nursery owners, Cuthbert was born in Merrylands in Sydney's western suburbs, attending Ermington Public School and Parramatta Home Science School where she developed an interest in athletics and an ambition to compete in the Olympics.

She competed in various local club meets, progressing to the NSW Athletics Championships and Australian Championships held at the Sydney Sports Ground.

Cuthbert won gold four gold medals throughout her career, winning three at the 1956 Melbourne Games in the 100m, 200m and 4x200m relay events. She also won the 400m eight years later at the Tokyo Games, making her the only Australian to win gold in four separate events.

After falling to injury in the 1960 Rome Games, Cuthbert made her comeback at the 1962 Commonwealth Games before winning her final gold two years later in Japan.

She set or equalled 18 world records between 1956 and 1964 over 60 metres, 100 yards, 220 yards, 400 metres, and in the 4×100 and 4×220 relays.

Her distinct running style and accomplishments hold a special place in Australian sport.

She was also the country’s first inductee into the IAAF Hall of Fame alongside Jesse Owens, Carl Lewis and other pioneers of the sport. At the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, she was a bearer of the Olympic Torch.

SCG Trustee Alan Jones said on Twitter: “Betty Cuthbert ran times in the ‘50s and ’60s that they’d struggle to run today. Her legend will remain with us forever. Rest in peace.”

Cuthbert was appointed a Life Member of the SCG in 2000, and inducted to the SCG Walk of Honour in 2001.

Personal Bests – outdoor

Event

Time

City

Date

60 Metres

7.2

Sydney

27 February 60

100 Yards

10.4

Sydney

1 March 58

100 Metres

11.4

Melbourne

24 November 56

200 Metres

23.2

Sydney

16 September 56

220 Yards

23.2

Hobart

7 March 60

400 Metres

52.01

Tokyo

17 October 64

440 Yards

53.3

Brisbane

23 March 63

For more information on Betty Cuthbert's athletic achievements please visit http://athletics.com.au/About-Us/Hall-of-Fame/Betty-Cuthbert

In loving memory of Betty, the flags have been lowered at the Sydney Cricket Ground and Allianz Stadium, and the SCG Trust has laid a floral tribute at the base of her Walk of Honour plinth.

The SCG Trust extends its sincerest sympathies to Betty’s family and friends, and the wider Australian athletic family.

A State Memorial Service for Ms Betty Cuthbert AM MBE will be held at the Sydney Cricket Ground at 1pm on Monday, August 21, 2017.
Entry via the Alan Davidson Gates adjacent to SCG Gate A on Driver Avenue from 12.15pm.
All welcome.

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