Monday, August 07, 2017

Betty Cuthbert (1938-2017) MBE AM

When you get to my age, people whom you "grew up with" start to die. Whether it be actors, musicians, politicians or sports people, some have had an impact on your life and their passing  generates emotions, some stronger than others.
Today Betty Cuthbert, Olympic champion runner and Australia's 'Golden Girl', died after a long battle with MS.
This saddened me more than most.

As a young kid I watched her run at the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games on a grainy, flickery black and white TV behind the window of an electrical goods store. Not many families could afford one of those recently introduced gizmos or even tickets to the games.
She won three gold medals in the 100m, 200m and 4 x100m relay.
This inspired me to run and sprinting became my sport of choice through my primary and high school days.
Didn't do too badly at it either.

Betty was injured for the 1960 Rome Olympics but won gold in the 400m in 1964 Tokyo games.
News of her MS filtered out in 1974 and she dedicated much of her life towards raising awareness about the condition. Most of my generation followed her progress when dribs and drabs appeared in the press.
She was back in the limelight again at the opening of the 2000 Sydney Olympics as one of the final torch bearers. She was accommpanied around the stadium in a wheelchair by another athletics great, Raelene Boyle, to a huge reception.
Now she is gone.

Four Olympic gold medals, sixteen world records and the only Australian to be inducted into the IAAF Hall of Fame.
Vale Betty.

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