AUSTRALIA'S Golden Girl and Mandurah resident Betty Cuthbert has died aged 79.
So unconfident was Betty Cuthbert of making the Australian Olympic team in 1956 that she bought herself tickets to attend the Melbourne Games as a spectator.
But with cruel irony she would lose the power of her legs are contracting multiple schlerosis in 1969 before defying the illness for almost 50 years, albeit confined to a wheelchair.
He remembers bursting with pride after listening on the radio as Cuthbert claimed victory in the first Olympic women's 400m.
In 2000 Cuthbert was one of the torch bearers at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Sydney.
Athletics Australia has sought permission from the IAAF for athletes who wished to, to be able to wear black arm bands when they compete in London as a tribute to Cuthbert.
Flying the Australian flag, Cuthbert rose to fame at just 18 after taking home three gold medals in her Olympic debut at the 1956 Melbourne games in the 100 metres, 200 metres (world record) and 4x100 metres relay events.
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.
"She just needed to talk to a fatherly figure and that cemented a huge friendship that has continued right through between us". She was moved and saddened by Cuthbert's death.
Shorten, likewise, said Cuthbert would "forever be a golden girl".
Known for her distinctive running style, with her mouth agape and high knees, Cuthbert set 16 world records in her career, setting the bar in the 60m, 100 yards, 200m, 220 yards, 440 yards and 4x100m relay.
"I'm so happy I got to meet such a tremendous and gracious role model, and Olympic Champion". In 2004 Ian Thorpe became the only Australian to now have more gold medals than Cuthbert with five.
"Rest in Peace Betty Cuthbert - an inspiration and a champion on and off the track", Turnbull said. Sydney 2000 Olympic Champion Cathy Freeman was one of those to follow in the esteemed footsteps of the sporting legend.
"It was the only ideal race I have ever run", she later said of that victory.
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