Asics West Track and Field Club president John Murray and vice-president Don Brodie recall the club’s “most famous athlete” Betty Cuthbert.
FLAGS flew at half-mast on civic buildings around Cumberland last Tuesday to mark the death of 79-year-old Olympic 'Golden Girl' Betty Cuthbert in Western Australia after a long battle with multiple sclerosis.
Born in Merrylands in 1938, at the age of 18 the daughter of local nursery owners won three gold medals at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and remains the only athlete, male or female, to win Olympic gold in the 100m, 200m and 400m.
Setting an extraordinary nine world records during her sporting career, she won a fourth Olympic gold in Tokyo in 1964 and Cumberland Council interim general manager Malcolm Ryan said she represented what was best about Australia, inspiring a generation of athletes to win graciously.
"There is a story that Betty Cuthbert didn't expect to qualify for the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and instead bought tickets as a spectator," Mr Ryan said.
Asics West Track And Field Club vice president Don Brodie recalled her as the best athlete produced by the club, then known as the Western Suburbs Athletics Club.
The 89-year-old also got to know her while they were both coaches and said she had strong ideas "and stuck to them".
"I can still picture her and her twin sister sitting on the inside of the running track of Concord Oval," he said.
Describing her as a "pioneer for women in sport", Premier Gladys Berejiklian also paid tribute to her advocacy for multiple sclerosis funding and research.
She said the moment when Ms Cuthbert carried the Olympic flame into the main stadium at the opening ceremony in 2000 for the Sydney Games, accompanied by Raelene Boyle, was "a defining moment in what was a remarkable time in Sydney's history".