Australian sprinter Betty Cuthbert, the only athlete to have won the Olympic 100m, 200m and 400 m titles, has died aged 79 after battling multiple sclerosis for almost half a century, Athletics Australia said on Monday.
Cuthbert, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1969, was a torchbearer at the Sydney Olympic Opening Ceremony in 2000.
Her first place finishes came in the 100m, 200m and the 4x100m.
She suffered a hamstring injury at the Rome Games four years later and briefly retired, before being coaxed back to the track to win the 400m at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo.
JOHN COATES, Australian Olympic Committee president - "Betty battled her illness for many years and showed tremendous courage, but more importantly she always managed to smile".
She won three Olympic golds at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics in thw100 metres, 200 metres & 4 x 100 relay. She was moved and saddened by Cuthbert's death.
Kevan Gosper is proud to have played a small part in Betty Cuthbert's remarkable success at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics in a moment which forged a lifelong bond between the pair.
She was born in the Sydney suburb of Merrylands in 1938.
"I realised from a very early age that God gave me a gift, and that gift was to run, and I wanted to use it to the best of my ability", she said.
In 1956 she became the first Australian to win triple Olympic gold. She was one of the inaugural inductees to the IAAF Hall of Fame in 2012.
Australian great Betty Cuthbert has been remembered before the start of action at the athletics world championships in London.
"Betty's history of success in athletics is inspiring", continued Arbib. "I'm so happy I got to meet such a tremendous and gracious role model, and Olympic champion".
Swimmer Ian Thorpe is the only Australian to claim more Olympic gold medals, with five.
JANA PITTMAN, two-time 400m hurdles world champion (told Fox Sports): "She was an icon for our sport".
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull led tributes on social media calling the runner an "inspiration and a champion on and off the track".
The retirement lasted less than two years, being revoked before the 1962 Empire Games in Perth, where she helped Australia to a gold medal in the sprint relay.
"It was the only ideal race I have ever run", she later said of that victory.