The Golden Girl Cover

The Golden Girl

Rohan Clarke with foreword by Alan Jones

Random House

Betty Cuthbert was the original golden girl who astonished the world by winning an unprecedented three gold medals on the track at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne.

Later she made a spectacular comeback from injury at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo where she won another gold medal. In all she broke 11 individual world records and five relay records and her astounding achievements have never been surpassed by another Australian athlete.


Sadly, for someone who felt she had a God-given gift, Betty contracted multiple sclerosis in her early 40s and is now confined to a wheelchair. To this day, however, she is feted by champions and garlanded with honours.

The Golden Girl celebrates Betty’s golden anniversary of the 1956 Olympics and her remarkable sporting career. It contains the voices of several of her fellow Olympians, lifelong friends and devoted admirers: people such as Herb Elliott, Mike Agostini, Marlene Mathews, Judy Amoore and Tony Charlton. Many of the pictures come from her personal collection and have never been seen before.

The Golden Girl is a warm and intimate portrait of one of our most significant athletes and a beautiful soul.

Lithe teenager our first gold medallist.

The Age, 27 November 1956

I would lean towards Betty as our greatest-ever Olympian for what she achieved in 1956—because Melbourne was so important to us as a young nation—and then for what she was able to do eight years later in Tokyo.

Bruce McAvaney

By any measure she was the most remarkable athlete. But I’m inclined to think that her greatest triumph—and greatest struggle—has been the health battle against multiple sclerosis.

Tony Charlton

Betty’s got some great in-built iron fortitude, which the ordinary person hasn’t got. On top of that, now she’s got infinite faith. When you put these two things together, you’re up against powerful elements.

Judy Patching