Athletics: Tributes for Betty Cuthbert

Tributes are pouring in for Australia's four-time Olympic gold medallist Betty Cuthbert

Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan has offered a state funeral for Olympic great Betty Cuthbert, who died overnight aged 79 following a long battle with multiple sclerosis.

Cuthbert was dubbed Australia's "Golden Girl" by media after her performance at the Melbourne Olympics.

"It's a very sad day, there's no doubt about it", Freeman said.

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has extended its "condolences to the Cuthbert family, her friends, her carer Rhonda Gillam and a nation that idolised the track great".

She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis five years later and bravely fought the disease for nearly fifty years.

She also anchored Australia to the 4x100m relay gold at the Melbourne Games and remains the joint second most decorated Australian Olympian behind swimmer Ian Thorpe.

Cuthbert did not compete at the Rome Olympics in 1960 due to injury, but added to her gold medal tally in Tokyo in 1964 with her victory in the 400m.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull led a flood of tributes to Cuthbert on Monday.

In 1956 at the Melbourne Olympics, aged 18, Cuthbert won three gold medals.

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"Betty battled her illness for many years and showed tremendous courage, but more importantly she always managed to smile".

Cuthbert was an inaugural member of the Athletics Australia Hall of Fame and she was inducted into the IAAF Hall of Fame in 2012.

She was notable for her distinctive approach to her sport, sprinting with her mouth wide open and lifting her knees high.

"She was a most modest champion".

And 400m champion Cathy Freeman.

Shorten, likewise, said Cuthbert would "forever be a golden girl".

"Betty was a true inspiration and role model to all Australians", he said in a statement.

But Betty dedicated much of her life to raising awareness of MS, actively campaigning for research funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Society and encouraging fellow MS Sufferers to stay strong.

"Rest in peace Betty Cuthbert - an inspiration and a champion on and off the track", he posted on his official Twitter account. Her personality and warmth and attitude lived up to that number of gold medals as well.

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