08 August, 2017
Betty Cuthbert, Australia's most successful Olympic track and field athlete, has passed away aged 79.
Turnbull's sentiment was echoed by Opposition leader Bill Shorten who wrote, "Rest in peace Betty Cuthbert, forever a golden girl".
"It's a very sad day, there's no doubt about it", Freeman said of Cuthbert's death.
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.
She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis five years later and bravely fought the disease for nearly fifty years. Two years later, she focused on the 400 and won gold in that event at the 1964 Olympics.
She suffered a hamstring injury at the Rome Games four years later and briefly retired, before being coaxed back to the track to win the 400m at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo.
"Betty is an inspiration and her story will continue to inspire Australian athletes for generations to come".
JOHN COATES, Australian Olympic Committee president - "Betty battled her illness for many years and showed tremendous courage, but more importantly she always managed to smile".
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Tennis player Margaret Court paid tribute to Cuthbert, saying Australia had lost a sporting legend. "She was just a great person".
Cuthbert was an inaugural inductee to the International Association of Athletics Federations Hall of Fame in March 2012 with Jesse Owens and Carl Lewis among others.
During her career, she set world records at 60m, 100 yards, 200m, 220 yards and 440 yards, and remains the only Olympian to have won gold in all sprint events.
"She was a most modest champion".
"I'm so happy I got to meet such a tremendous and gracious role model, and Olympic Champion".
Dual world champion 400m hurdler Jana Pittman described Cuthbert as Australia's best.
Shorten, likewise, said Cuthbert would "forever be a golden girl". Four Olympic gold medals was a feat that went unsurpassed until 2004 when Ian Thorpe was at his peak. 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.