Cuthbert, who won Olympic gold in 100, 200 and 400, has died

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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.

She remains the only Olympic track athlete to have won the 100m, 200m and 400m and she set nine world records during her career, four of them in 1958, in the 60 metres, 100 yards, 200 metres, 220 yards and 440 yards.

She also contributed to Australian relay teams, setting world records.

Eight years later in Tokyo, she became the only person in history to have won Olympic gold in 100, 200 and 400 meters.

"Betty was tragically diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1969 and she has battled the disease courageously".

Cuthbert broke onto the Olympic scene in Melbourne in 1956, claiming three gold medals on home soil in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m replay.

The sight of Cuthbert pounding down the track to victory in her distinctive high-striding style with her mouth agape was among the most enduring images of the Melbourne Olympics.

Elizabeth "Betty" Cuthbert was born in Sydney on April 20, 1938, a twin to her sister Marie.

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"She always regarded that single gold medal of 1964 as a far greater triumph than any of her three in 1956".

Cuthbert was the first Australian to be inducted into the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Hall of Fame upon its creation in 2012 alongside Carl Lewis, Jesse Owens and others.

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

"I'm so happy I got to meet such a tremendous and gracious role model".

The Australian Olympic Committee said an example of Cuthbert's humility was how she prepared for the first Olympics staged in Australia.

Shorten, likewise, said Cuthbert would "forever be a golden girl". Only Ian Thorpe's five Olympic gold beats Cuthbert's tally.

"Rest in peace Betty Cuthbert - an inspiration and a champion on and off the track", Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wrote on social media on Monday.

JANA PITTMAN, two-time 400m hurdles world champion (told Fox Sports): "She was an icon for our sport". I just think how tough she was.

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