Tokyo 1964: Betty Cuthbert – Athletics

Tokyo 1964: Betty Cuthbert – Athletics
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It's challenging to find the right superlatives for Betty Cuthbert’s Olympic record.

Competing as a relatively unknown, 18-year-old athlete at the 1956 games, she won every sprint gold medal available to women – and she remains the only athlete in history to win Olympic gold in the 100m, 200m and 400m events.

Firmly etched into the national psyche by the time of the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, the 'Golden Girl' (as she was affectionately dubbed) achieved perhaps her sweetest victory of all, as seen in this brilliant capturing of her flawless race at the inaugural 400m women's sprint.

Cuthbert had been injured leading up to the games, initially hiding her injury from selectors, but was then allowed to compete on the provisio that she'd submit to rehabilitation treatment and wear a toe support.

In the footage, we catch snippets of Betty's trademark running style – her high knee lift and open mouth. Betty hits her stride in the final stretch of the race, coming from behind to win by a small margin.

This fabulous black-and-white film reel of ATN7 news file footage captures one of the greatest moments in Australian athletics. Typical of Olympic coverage of the time, the clip includes long takes and switches between wide shots and mid shots. At times the camera moves about tracking one or more runners.

The commentary and style of speech play out almost like horseracing commentary, but what comes through in the caller's words is a great sense of pride, affection and ownership. The emphasis on 'Our' in 'Our Betty is doing fine' helps convey such qualities.