Betty Cuthbert to be honoured in IAAF Hall of Fame
19 November 2012
One of Australia’s greatest Olympians, Betty Cuthbert, will this week be recognised with a prestigious international accolade as she is inducted into the IAAF Hall of Fame.
As part of the celebrations to mark the Centennial Year of the International Association of Athletics Federations, the IAAF announced the inauguration of the IAAF Hall of Fame earlier in 2012.
The creation of the IAAF Hall of Fame has long been a vision of the sport’s world governing body and is described by IAAF President, Lamine Diack as an excellent way not only to honour the lifetime achievements of our greatest athletes.
Known as the Golden Girl of the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games, Cuthbert won three sprinting gold medals and entrenched herself in the collective affection of a nation, aged just 18 years. In nine days she won the 100m, the 200m and anchored the team that won the 4 x 100m relay - becoming the first Australian, male or female, ever to win three gold medals at a single Games.
After injury prevented her from competing in Rome and a retirement that did not last, Cuthbert tackled the 400m at the Tokyo 1964 Olympics, ran flawlessly and collected a fourth gold medal.
Cuthbert is one of 24 athletes to be honoured, with an Official Induction Ceremony taking place at the IAAF Centenary Gala in Barcelona on Saturday 24 November 2012.
Afflicted with multiple sclerosis for over 40 years, Cuthbert has fought bravely against the crippling condition and now requires full time care. Despite her condition however, Cuthbert will travel to Barcelona to receive her prestigious award in person. Accompanying her along with two nurses, will be her long-time close friend Rhonda Gillam.
“The MS has really taken a toll on Betty, especially in recent months,” Gillam said. “But finding out about this award has been the most amazing thing to happen to her. When we got the call about it Betty said to me – ‘This will be the climax of my career’ – and that is one of the most wonderful things I have heard her say.
“She really is so happy and so excited to be able to go there. It makes me nearly cry thinking about it,” Gillam said.
The journey has been organised and funded by the Australian Olympic Committee with the support of Qantas and also Athletics Australia.
“Betty Cuthbert is one of Australia’s finest Olympians,” AOC President John Coates said.
“It is wonderful that we have been able to work with our sponsor Qantas and with both Athletics Australia and the IAAF to make it possible for Betty to travel to Barcelona to be honoured at the awards night. She is an inspiration to all athletes and truly deserving of this tribute.”