Betty Cuthbert

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Betty Cuthbert
Betty Cuthbert, c. 1950s, by Ted Hood.jpg
Betty Cuthbert c. 1950s
Personal information
Birth name Elizabeth Cuthbert
Nationality Australian
Born (1938-04-20) April 20, 1938 (age 76)
Merrylands, New South Wales, Australia
Residence Western Australia
Sport
Country Australia
Sport Athletics
Event(s) 100 metres
200 metres
400 metres

Elizabeth ("Betty") Cuthbert AM, MBE (born 20 April 1938 in Merrylands,[1] New South Wales) is an Australian athlete, and a fourfold Olympic champion.

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.[2]

Athletic career[edit]

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.

She set a world record at 440 yards, which was broken in September 1959 by Maria Leontyavna Itkina of the Soviet Union.[3]

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.

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 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.

Sydney 2000[edit]

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.[4]

Personal details[edit]

Betty Cuthbert grew up in the Sydney suburb of Ermington, where she attended Ermington Public School.[5] As a teenager, she attended Macarthur Girls High School. The main street of Ermington shopping centre is called Betty Cuthbert Avenue in her honour.[6] Cuthbert has a twin sister, Marie.[7]

She has multiple sclerosis and now lives in Western Australia. In 2010, Betty Cuthbert had a rose named after her.[8]

Personal bests[edit]

Statue of Betty Cuthbert outside the Melbourne Cricket Ground

Personal Bests – outdoor

Event Time Wind City Date
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

World records[edit]

Individual

Event Time Wind City Date
60 Metres 7.2

Honours[edit]

Cuthbert was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1985.[9]

Cuthbert was one of the inaugural inductees of the IAAF Hall of Fame in 2012.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Australian Women's Archives Project
  2. ^ Gordon, Harry (2000). "Betty Cuthbert AM MBE". Athletics Australia Hall of Fame. Athletics Australia. Retrieved 9 March 2012. 
  3. ^ "Miss Cuthbert Loses Record". The Age. 15 September 1959. Retrieved 15 August 2011. 
  4. ^ Clip of the Opening Ceremony, part 12 on YouTube. Names visible on big screen at 5:42.
  5. ^ Anna (class 4S), Ermington Public School History, Ermington Public School Website (accessed 19 June 2006)
  6. ^ Gregory's Street Directory, 59th Edition 1995, Map 310 B2
  7. ^ 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" and she had some kids and you do not want to know how to make kids
  8. ^ http://www.treloarroses.com.au/products/product.asp?pID=5576&cID=8&c=73648
  9. ^ "Betty Cuthbert AM MBE". Sport Australia Hall of Fame. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  10. ^ "Track and field getting Hall of Fame". ESPN Olympic Sports. ESPN. 2012. Retrieved 8 March 2012. 

External links[edit]