'Golden Girl' Betty Cuthbert dies, aged 79

Bring your umbrella today Melbourne- it's wet

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.

"She will be forever remembered as a legend of the sport and a trailblazer for our female athletes". "She had straw-coloured hair and a distinctive, wide mouthed manner of gulping air that made her look to be roaring exultantly as she streaked down the track".

"She just needed to talk to a fatherly figure and that cemented a huge friendship that has continued right through between us".

She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1974 and battled the disease for many years after retiring from her sporting career. "Betty was a member of a unique band of athletes who inspired thousands of Australians".

"It's a very sad day", Freeman said.

"I'm so happy I got to meet such a tremendous and gracious role model, and Olympic Champion". "Not only was she a tremendous athlete, but she was a wonderful contributor to our country and the sport".

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"Rest in peace Betty Cuthbert - an inspiration and a champion on and off the track", tweeted Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, while fellow track legend Cathy Freeman said: "Thank you for the inspirational memories, Betty Cuthbert".

Trengove only hours before learning of Cuthbert's death had finished ninth in the marathon in London - the best result by an Australian woman at a world championship. She was the first Australian to win triple Olympic gold.

She duly won a fourth gold medal, becoming the first athlete in the world to do so in four different events. She's such a down to earth, lovely lady.

"It was the only flawless race I have ever run", she later said of that victory. "She fought really hard with MS".

But perhaps the most powerful moment of her public life was when she was a final torchbearer in the opening ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

Four years later in Rome, an injury early on saw her miss out completely, and she retired for 18 months, working in her family's nursery, before returning to the track in time to win gold in the 4x110 yards relay at the '62 Commonwealth games, and two years later, gold in the 400m at the Tokyo games.

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