Betty Cuthbert c. 1950s
|Birth name||Elizabeth Cuthbert|
April 20, 1938 |
Merrylands, New South Wales, Australia
During her career, she set world records for 60 metres, 100 yards, 200 metres, 220 yards and 440 yards. Cuthbert also contributed to Australian relay teams completing a win in the 4x100 metres, 4x110 yards, 4x200 metres and 4x220 yards. Cuthbert had a distinctive running style, with a high knee lift and mouth wide open.
At the age of 18, with the 1956 Summer Olympics to be held in Melbourne, Cuthbert set a World Record in the 200 metres, making her one of the favorites for a gold in that event. Cuthbert first reached the finals of the 100 metres, 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 metres 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 metres 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, in Rome, 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 metres. Subsequently, she retired from the sport of track & field.
Afterwards, she concentrated on the 400 metres, and she competed in that event in the 1964 Summer Olympics, in Tokyo, 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 is the only Olympian, male or female, to have won a gold medal in all sprint (running) events: 100 metres; 200 metres; and the 400 metres. She subsequently verified her retirement for good after Tokyo.
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. Sitting in a wheelchair and accompanied by Raelene Boyle, 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.
Betty Cuthbert grew up in the Sydney suburb of Ermington, where she attended Ermington Public School. As a teenager, she attended Macarthur Girls High School. The main street of Ermington shopping centre is called Betty Cuthbert Avenue in her honour. Cuthbert has a twin sister, Marie.
Personal Bests – outdoor
|60 Metres||7.2||Sydney||27 February 60|
|100 Yards||10.4||Sydney||1 March 58|
|100 Metres||11.4||Melbourne||24 November 56|
|200 Metres||23.2||Sydney||16 September 56|
|220 Yards||23.2||Hobart||7 March 60|
|400 Metres||52.01||Tokyo||17 October 64|
|440 Yards||53.3||Brisbane||23 March 63|
- Australian Women's Archives Project
- Gordon, Harry (2000). "Betty Cuthbert AM MBE". Athletics Australia Hall of Fame. Athletics Australia. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
- "Miss Cuthbert Loses Record". The Age. 15 September 1959. Retrieved 15 August 2011.
- YouTube clip of the Opening Ceremony, part 12. Names visible on big screen at 5:42.
- Anna (class 4S), Ermington Public School History, Ermington Public School Website (accessed 19 June 2006)
- Gregory's Street Directory, 59th Edition 1995, Map 310 B2
- Bartok, Di (21 June 2010). "Betty Cuthbert returns to Ermington for honour". Parramatta Advertiser. Retrieved 22 March 2012. "Attending were members of her family, including twin sister Marie Johnson"
- "Betty Cuthbert AM MBE". Sport Australia Hall of Fame. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
- "Track and field getting Hall of Fame". ESPN Olympic Sports. ESPN. 2012. Retrieved 8 March 2012.
- Prentis, Malcolm. "Great Australian Presbyterians: The Game". Uniting Church in Australia. Archived from the original on 11 December 2006. Retrieved 2007-03-07.
- Athletics Gold profile
- Betty Cuthbert (Australia): Hall of Fame Profile from International Association of Athletics Federations