Betty Cuthbert: Four-time Olympic gold medallist an inspiration on and off the track
Raelene Boyle wheels MS-stricken Betty Cuthbert to the opening of the Sydney Olympics 2000
By Luke Pentony
Among the many tributes paid to Betty Cuthbert upon news of her death at age 79, a touching tweet from Cathy Freeman summed up how much she meant to Australian sport.
"Thank you for the inspirational memories, Betty Cuthbert," Freeman tweeted on Monday morning. "Rest in peace."
It is fitting for Cuthbert to be described as an inspiration, as that is what she was for not just Freeman and the likes of Raelene Boyle, but also the generations of Australian track and field athletes who followed in the wake of her illustrious career.
Cuthbert won four Olympic gold medals and remains the only athlete to have triumphed at the Games in the 100, 200 and 400 metres.
Across her career she set 16 world records in individual and relay events, having burst to prominence at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics as a shy 18-year-old from the north-west Sydney suburb of Ermington.
The image of her running with her mouth gaped wide open became synonymous with her victories in the 100 and 200m, and 4x100m relay, which earned her the title of 'Golden Girl'.
Perhaps Cuthbert's greatest achievement on the track, however, came eight years later at the Tokyo Olympics when she won her fourth gold in what was the debut of the women's 400m.
Between Melbourne and Tokyo, Cuthbert's career had been blighted by injury, which cruelled her attempts to defend her Olympic titles at the 1960 Rome Games, while she had also spent time in retirement before deciding to return to the sport.
Considered past her best by some at the age of 26, Cuthbert took victory in Tokyo in an Olympic record time of 52 seconds and her satisfaction was obvious.
"This was the hardest race of all," she told the media in Tokyo.
"In Melbourne, everything came easily to me, for I was much younger and things happened without my realising it.
"But I wanted this one more than anything."
Cuthbert's legacy recognised at Sydney Olympics Australia did not win another gold medal in the 400m until Freeman famously did so at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, only a week and a half after Cuthbert took part in the final stages of the torch relay.
The honour of lighting the cauldron was given to Freeman, but Cuthbert confined to a wheelchair at this stage of her life because of multiple sclerosis was among the celebration of Australia's female Olympic greats on that emotional night in Sydney.
Three-time Olympic sprint medallist Boyle assisted Cuthbert as she made her way around the Stadium Australia track and she later reflected on the significance of sharing that moment with one of her heroes.
"Betty was to become one of the athletes and women I most admired as I grew older," Boyle wrote in her 2003 autobiography, Raelene.
"To have enjoyed such a warm friendship with her over the years is something I cherish, along with memories of a certain night many years later when I had the opportunity to push her wheelchair into the spotlight that was one of the proudest moments in my life."
Even in retirement, Cuthbert proved to be an inspiring figure after being diagnosed with MS.
Majorie Jackson-Nelson, who won the Olympic 100-200m double at the Helsinki Games four years before Cuthbert's Melbourne heroics, was in awe of how bravely her close friend responded to the debilitating illness.
"When she was struck down with MS it was a bit of a blow to start with," Jackson-Nelson said on Monday. "But Betty, as strong as she was, took it in her stride like everything she did and it was a pleasure and a privilege to know Bett."
Cuthbert's achievements were recognised internationally in 2012 when she was among the first athletes inducted into the IAAF Hall of Fame alongside other greats such as Jesse Owens, Carl Lewis and Sergei Bubka.
The Western Australian government has offered a state funeral, with Cuthbert having lived in Mandurah near Perth during her retirement.
Australian Olympic athletics champion Betty Cuthbert has died after a long battle with multiple sclerosis.
Cuthbert was a four-time Olympic gold medallist, winning three at the 1956 Melbourne games in the 100 metres, 200 metres and 4x100 metres relay events.
Cuthbert, who also won gold in the 400 metres at the Tokyo Olympics eight years later, was a torch bearer at the opening ceremony for the Sydney Olympic Games.
Betty Cuthbert has died aged 79. (Anita Jones)
The daughter of nursery owners, Cuthbert was born in Merrylands in Sydney's west, attending Ermington Public School and Macarthur Girls High School where she developed an interest in athletics and an ambition to compete in the Olympics.
She made her Olympic debut at the 1956 Melbourne Games where she set a world record in the 200 metres.
She competed in the 1960 Rome Games but suffered an injury and was eliminated from the heats of the 100 metres, announcing her retirement from track and field shortly afterwards.
Betty Cuthbert competes at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. Photo: Supplied
Cuthbert made her comeback at the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth before going to the 1964 Tokyo Games where she won her fourth Olympic gold medal.
She remains the only Olympian to have won a gold medal in all sprint events, being the 100, 200 and 400 metres. Only Ian Thorpe has won more gold for Australia.
She first experienced symptoms of multiple sclerosis in 1969 and was diagnosed with the disease in 1974, spending much of her later life dedicated much of her life towards raising awareness about the condition.
Tributes poured in for Cuthbert on Monday morning, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull describing her as an inspiration.
Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates remembered Cuthbert as being brave in the face of adversity.
"Betty was the golden girl of the track and a national heroine," he said. "It's very sad to lose such a great champion. Betty battled her illness for many years and showed tremendous courage, but more importantly she always managed to smile."
Olympic athlete Cathy Freeman described Cuthbert as an inspiring force.
"It's a very sad day, there's no doubt about it," Freeman said. "Betty is an inspiration and her story will continue to inspire Australian athletes for generations to come. I'm so happy I got to meet such a tremendous and gracious role model, and Olympic champion."
Radio broadcaster Alan Jones also paid tribute to Cuthbert's athletic achievements.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten tweeted that Cuthbert would always be a golden girl to Australians.
Peak body Athletics Australia extended sympathy to Cuthbert's friends and family.
Cuthbert was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1985 with chairman John Bertrand remembering her as a great role model.
"Betty was a true inspiration and role model to all Australians," he said. "Her feats on the track bought together Australians as one. She loved the country and we loved her".
Cuthbert left NSW for Western Australia in 1991, settling in Mandurah south of Perth.
New Delhi: Nearly 103 million Indians living as on 1 March, 2011 were married as children, i.e. before reaching the age of 18, of this 85.2 million were girls, according to the report “Elimination of Child Marriage in India: Progress and Prospects” released by ActionAid India here today.
Girl child marriages account for 30.2 per cent of the currently married female population of the country and the elimination of this alone could add 5 per cent (or 27 million) more literate women and increase India’s GDP by 1.7 per cent. As per the report more than 30 per cent girl child marriages in the world occur in India. The prevalence rate of child marriages in our country is higher than that of several African countries including Somalia, Nigeria, Eritrea and Zambia, says the report brought out by Child Rights Focus, a knowledge activist initiative of ActionAid India.
While releasing the report Shabana Azmi, celebrated film actor, social worker and Chairperson of ActionAid India said, “Patriarchy is at the root of child marriage, and patriarchy has to be tackled completely to eliminate child marriage. Spreading education and building confidence amongst girls enables them to resist child marriage and chart their own lives.”
“Child marriage is not only a human rights or gender issue; it has serious consequences on India’s demographic, health, education and economic progress. Women are half of the population and if we cannot combat child marriage, it may increase extent of unhealthy and unskilled labour force that can be great hindrance to the economic prospects of the country which is aspiring to grow in double digits,” says Dr. Srinivas Goli, Assistance Professor, Centre for the Study of Regional Development, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi and the author of the report.
“The prevalence of child marriage can be seen across all social groups including in urban areas, thus a strict correlation cannot be drawn between low income, residing in backward areas and child marriage. The report shows that despite the reduction in the rate of child marriage the numbers are still high with more than 30 per cent being India’s share of girl child marriages in the world. Apart from strengthening the implementation of laws, it is also important to strengthen the agency of girls as well as boys to resist and eliminate child marriage.” says Sandeep Chachra, Executive Director, ActionAid India.
Editor’s Note ? India is Contributing 33 per cent of total child brides in the world. ? Child marriages in India (103 million) are more than the total population of Philippines (100 million) and Germany (80.68 million). ? In every hour, nearly 150 child marriages are occurring in India. ? Out of every 28 child marriages occurring per minute in the world, more than two take place in India. ? Elimination of Girl Child marriages can avoid 27,000 neonatal deaths, 55,000 infant deaths, 160,000 child deaths ? Elimination of Girl Child marriages can add 5per cent more literates (27 million women) 1.7 per cent and of GDP (accounts to nearly 1899.65 billion INR/ $29.22 billion) ***Ends**
In 5 Years, 277% Rise In Rape Cases Reported In Delhi; Govt Initiatives Falter, Funds Underutilised
By Chaitanya Mallapur
Members of All India Students Association (AISA) shout slogans as they hold placards during a protest outside police headquarters in New Delhi, India, October 18, 2015.
The number of rapes reported each year in Delhi has more than tripled over the last five years, registering an increase of 277% from 572 in 2011 to 2,155 in 2016, according to data released recently by the Delhi Police.
The year after the Nirbhaya incidentin which a 23-year-old paramedical student was raped by a group of men in a moving bus in Delhi on December 16, 2012saw a 132% spike in the number of cases reported, with a sustained 32% increase thereafter, from 1,636 cases in 2013 to 2,155 in 2016.
Cases pertaining to “assault on a woman with intent to outrage her modesty” (under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code) have increased by 473% from 727 in 2012 to 4,165 in 2016.
Government initiatives to ensure the safety of women–such as this National Vehicle Security and Tracking System and setting up of women’s helplines have failed to effect a measurable drop in the number of reports of rape and other sex-related crimes.
At the same time, funds allocated for improving safety of women in public transport have been underutilised for years on end, as this ministerial reply in the Lok Sabha (lower house of Parliament) indicates. Continuing horror The first five months of 2017 saw 836 rape cases being reported to the police.
The figure does not quite capture the continuing horror that women in the National Capital Region (NCR) face. In the 48 hours from June 19, 2017, for instance, five rape incidents were recorded. In addition to these, a 24-year-old woman was raped in a car parked outside a mall in Delhi on June 20, 2017, and another in which a 26-year-old woman was gangraped in a moving car on the outskirts of Delhi.
In 2015, the latest year for which National Crime Records Bureau data are available, the NCR region reported 3,430 rape cases, of which the Union Territory (UT) of Delhi alone reported 64%. Source: National Crimes Record Bureau
The other most commonly reported crimes against women in Delhi are cruelty by the husband and the in-laws, kidnapping, and “insult to the modesty of women”.
Crimes covered under “assault on woman with intent to outrage her modesty” include relatively more serious crimes such as ‘sexual harassment’, ‘assault or use of criminal force to women with intent to disrobe,’ ‘voyeurism’ and ‘stalking.’
“Insult to modesty of women” covers sexually-motivated comments or gestures in a place of work, on public transport, and so on.
Why reporting of incidents has increased The number of rapes reported each year in Delhi, as we said, rose 277% from 572 in 2011 to 2,155 in 2016, according to Delhi Police data.\
Source: Delhi Police *Figures up to May 31, 2017
The rise in the number of cases does not necessarily imply an increase in the number of rapes; it can mean greater willingness on the part of survivors to approach the authorities, as well as a greater propensity among police officials to register complaints.
One government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IndiaSpend that the rise in the number of reported rapes is due to advisories issued by the government and the Supreme Court of India that action would be taken against police personnel who fail to register a First Information Report (FIR) for rape and other cognisable offences.
Anant Kumar Asthana, a Delhi-based activist and lawyer, agreed: “Reporting of sexual offenses against women has gone up with stricter implementation of laws like Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, and the [enactment of the] Criminal Law Amendment Act 2013.”
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, obligates citizens to lodge complaints of sexual offences against children.
The Criminal Law Amendment Act, popularly known as the Nirbhaya Act, came into force on April 2, 2013, and inserted a provision in the Code of Criminal Procedure to make it mandatory for criminal complaints of a sexual nature to be recorded by women police officers, and prescribes rigorous imprisonment of between six months and two years in addition to a monetary penalty for a public servant who fails to register a complaint of a cognisable offence. “With more stringent laws being passed, public awareness being created, and the media reporting more cases of sexual assault, reporting of cases has increased, but this is still far from being representative of the number of cases that occur,” Preethi Pinto, Program Coordinator on Prevention of Violence against Women and Children at Mumbai-based SNEHA (Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action) told IndiaSpend.
Only 50% of all crimes are reported, and only half of these are registered as FIRs, a 2015 public survey entitled ‘Crime Victimisation and Safety Perception’ conducted by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) among households in Delhi and Mumbai, found.
CHRI estimated that one in 13 cases of sexual harassment were reported in Delhi.
At the same time, a comparison of Delhi Police reports from 2014 and 2015 reveals a rising trend in the number of rape cases withdrawn, from 81 to 104, possibly indicating a lack of faith in the criminal-justice system, especially as cases fail judicial scrutiny, IndiaSpend reported on August 12, 2016. Conviction rate remains low Meanwhile, the conviction rate for rape in Delhi, though better than the all-India average (see Table 2), dipped to 29.7% in 2015, the latest year for which data are available from the National Crime Records Bureau.
Across India, one in four rape trials leads to conviction, as IndiaSpend reported on March 9, 2015.
Source: National Crime Records Bureau; Figures in percentage
“Declining conviction rate in rape cases ordinarily means lesser number of registered cases could be proved in court and this gives rise to the suspicion that maybe false cases are also being registered,” Asthana said, “But it could also mean that police is not able to do good investigations or that victims are not getting quality legal representation during trial. Whatever may be the reason, declining conviction causes concern and must be examined for possible reasons.”
Government initiatives falter After the Nirbhaya incident, the Delhi Police set up 161 help-desks staffed by female officers, and announced that 70% of female officers would report for over eight-hour shifts each day, according to 2014 Bureau of Police Research and Development study on national police working conditions. However, those who deal with these help-desks question their competence, IndiaSpend reported on August 12, 2016.
In 2013, the Ministry of Finance announced it would set up a Rs 1,000-crore ($156 million) Nirbhaya Fund to drive initiatives aimed at enhancing the safety of women in the country.
Thus far an amount of Rs 3,100 crore has been allocated, according to the government’s reply to the Rajya Sabha (upper house of parliament) on April 6, 2017. As many as 16 proposals amounting to Rs 2,348.850 crore have been received, of which 15 amounting to Rs 2,047.85 crore have been approved.
Sources: Rajya Sabha; Figures in Rs Crore
The Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) has initiated three schemes under the Nirbhaya FundOne Stop Centre (OSC) for women affected by violence, under which 84 centres are currently operational; Universalization of Women Helpline, under which 18 states and UTs have set up helplines; and Mahila Police Volunteer (MPV), whose pilots are currently running in several states.
Due to intense public scrutiny, the ministry issued a clarification on January 27, 2017, enumerating the various schemes being run by various ministries under Nirbhaya Fund. However, it made no mention of funds utilized or spent on these schemes individually, although an overall allocation of Rs 1,530 crore and an estimated expenditure incurred of Rs 400 crore was cited.
In a May 26, 2016, order, the Supreme Court asked the Centre to formulate a national policy for providing relief to rape survivors, saying the Nirbhaya Fund amounted to “just paying a lip service”.
Despite the initiatives under Nirbhaya Fund, crime against women continues unabated, amicus curiae and senior advocate Indira Jaising told the Supreme Court, The Hindu reported on February 7, 2017. “What is the purpose of having a fund when it does not reach the needy hands. It is hardly utilized and the only purpose it appears to have been used is setting up of ‘one stop crisis centres’ in different states,” Jaising said.
‘Societal attitudes must change’ Crime statistics from Delhi support this contention. Yet, laws and policing alone cannot prevent crimes of a sexual nature.
“Preventing sexual assault is a long-term process and the most important way to do so, is to change individuals’ and society’s attitudes and behaviour. Stringent implementation of laws and strict policing will help, but the real change will come when abusers and rapists are consistently convicted for their crimes, survivors are not doubted, judged or shamed,” Pinto said.
Pinto emphasized the need to change societal attitudes by instilling healthy notions of gender equality and masculinity among children, and removing unhealthy underpinnings of patriarchal biases among adults. This can only happen when “violence against women and girls is not considered a private matter, but a public problem, with societies, public and living spaces are designed and developed for women and children as much as for men,” Pinto added.
(Chaitanya Mallapur is an analyst with IndiaSpend.)
HYDERABAD: Alcohol, accidents claim lives of young men
The link between child marriage and early widowhood could never be starker. Almost all the women who attended a meeting at the International Widows Day on Friday at L.B. Stadium, were victims of child marriage and eventually loss of partner.
Dubarla Yadamma, who was from Katryal village of Wardhannapet mandal in Warangal district, lost her husband to an accident 11 years ago, at the age of 18. She had already been married for six years and was pregnant with a boy after birth of two girls.
“My in-laws brought pressure on me to leave home without my girls and get the foetus aborted. They even offered Rs. 2 lakh, but I refused and stay put in the house. Even now, my children and I have to face a lot of harassment and discrimination,” Yadamma said.
From her village with over 200 families, there are 50 women who lost their husbands at very young age. Most of the men in their productive years succumbed to alcoholism and accidents.
Komuramma alias Lusamma, also from Wardhannapet mandal, lost her husband 10 years ago to liver cirrhosis. She was married at 15 and had five children before her husband died.
“He was employed by the village panchayat for sewer cleaning. After each day’s work, he would drink or he couldn’t sleep,” she recalled. She works as farmhand now.
Alcoholic husband was the reason for early widowhood of Chaganti Sammakka too from Thimmapur village of Warangal. Her husband, who was a farmhand was heavily into drinking and left her with two sons, one mentally unsound.
Though cheap liquor has been controlled after the Telangana Government cracked the whip against it, that has resulted only in increased sales of ‘brand’ liquor, the women say.
The meeting had widows mostly from Warangal and Mahbubabad districts, as the organisation ‘Bala Vikasa’ which organised the event is active there.
The women are also subjected to severe discrimination and abuse, which is so internalised by them that they are unmoved by it.
“Nobody invites us to any auspicious occasion. I cannot attend the functions of my own children,” says Yadamma, with a tinge of sadness, while B. Somakka from Brahmanakothapalli village of Mahbubabad district does not see why the custom should be opposed. She even calls herself a ‘munda’ which is an abusive word in Telugu for widow.
“Why would people invite us to weddings? We are widows!” she exclaims.
“We have to face abuse often in our daily lives. We have learnt to ignore, or else we cannot live,” says Sumalatha, another young widow.
The meeting has demanded a corporation for widows, reservations in education and jobs for children of single mothers and a law against discrimination and abuse.
In this thought-provoking, big-idea book, Betsy Hartmann sheds light on a pervasive butuntil nowinvisible theme shaping the American mindset: apocalyptic thinking, or the belief that the end of the world is nigh. Tracing our nation's fixation with doomsday from the Puritans to the present, Hartmann makes a compelling case that apocalyptic fears are deeply intertwined with the American ethos, to our detriment. Hartmann shows how apocalyptic thinking has historically contributed to some of our nation's biggest problems, such as inequality, permanent war, and the exploitation of natural resources. While it is tempting to view these problems as harbingers of the end times, this mindset constricts the collective imagination and precludes social change. The truth is that we have much more control over the future of our planet than we think, and our fatalism is much more dangerous than the apocalypse. In The America Syndrome, Hartmann seeks to reclaim human agency and, in so doing, revise the national narrative. By changing the way we think, we just might change the world.
Betsy Hartmann at Eugene Public Library June26 2017 Betsy Hartmann discusses her latest book, The America Syndrome: Apocalypse, War & Our Call to Greatness.
Betsy Hartmann on the Danger of Apocalyptic Thinking Did you grow up fearing that the end of the world was nigh? In The America Syndrome: Apocalypse, War and Our Call to Greatness, author and professor emerita of Hampshire College, Betsy Hartmann, sheds light on the way that apocalyptic thinking has shaped
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Betsy Hartmann writes nonfiction and fiction about important national and global challenges. She is a well-known educator, commentator, and advocate on women’s rights, population, environment, and security concerns. Her new book The America Syndrome: Apocalypse, War and Our Call to Greatness explores how end-times thinking profoundly influences American foreign policy, environmental politics, and the persistence of injustice. Now in its third edition, Betsy’s feminist classic Reproductive Rights and Wrongs: The Global Politics of Population Control tackles the powerful myth of overpopulation and its negative consequences for women’s reproductive health and rights. She is also the co-author of A Quiet Violence: View from a Bangladesh Village and co-editor of the anthology Making Threats: Biofears and Environmental Anxieties. Her political thrillers The Truth About Fire and Deadly Election explore the threat the Far Right poses to American democracy.
Betsy is professor emerita of Development Studies and senior policy analyst of the Population and Development Program at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. She received her BA magna cum laude in South Asian Studies from Yale University and her PhD in Development Studies from the London School of Economics. To learn more about Betsy, visit .