Elizabeth ("Betty") Cuthbert AM, MBE (born 20 April 1938 in Merrylands, New South Wales) is an Australian athlete, and a fourfold Olympic champion.
During her career, she set world records at 60 metres, 100 yards, 200 metres, 220 yards and 440 yards. Cuthbert also contributed to Australian relay teams setting world records at 4x100 metres, 4x110 yards, 4x200 metres and 4x220 yards.
At the age of 18, with the 1956 Summer Olympics to be held in Melbourne, Cuthbert set a World Record in the 200 meters, making her one of the favorites for a gold in that event. Cuthbert first reached the finals of the 100 meters, setting an Olympic record of 11.4 seconds in her heat, while the Australian World Record holder Shirley Strickland de la Hunty was eliminated.
Cuthbert won the final and was then the big favourite for the 200 meters title. She lived up to the expectations, and became the Australian "Golden Girl". A third gold medal for Cuthbert came when she ran the final leg on in the 4 x 100 meters final, which the Australian team won in a new World Record.
During 1958 Cuthbert set world records for 100 and 220 yards but was beaten in both events by arch-rival and double-Olympic bronze medalist Marlene Mathews at the Australian Championships. Later in the year, at the Empire Games at Cardiff, Cuthbert could only place fourth in the 100y and second in the 220y, again behind Mathews.
In the lead-up to the 1960 Summer Olympics, Cuthbert set a world 220 yards and 200 metres record of 23.2 seconds in winning the Australian championships. At the Rome Games, she suffered from injury and was eliminated from the heats of the 100 meters. Subsequently, she retired from the sport of track & field.
Her retirement did not last long, though, for she returned at the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth, Western Australia, helping Australia to a gold medal in the sprint relay.
Afterwards, she concentrated on the 400 meters, and she competed in that event in the 1964 Summer Olympics, when it was on the Olympic program for women for the first time. Though not impressive in the heats, Cuthbert won the title for her fourth Olympic gold medal, beating out Ann Packer of Great Britain. She subsequently verified her retirement for good.
Cuthbert was one of the bearers of the Olympic Torch at the Opening Ceremony of the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. She carried the Olympic Torch at the stadium, as one of the runners for the final segment, before the lighting of the Olympic Flame by Cathy Freeman.
Full article ▸