Betty Cuthbert

It's funny looking back at everything. I was never fanatical about running – never had any heroes or anything – it all just happened.

Eighteen months before the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, I spent most of my savings buying a spectator ticket for myself. I wasn't expecting to run in those Olympics. I wasn't even rated in the world's top 15 in the 100 metres at the beginning of 1956. Then I broke Marjorie Jackson's world record for the 200 metres.

In Melbourne, aged 18, I won the 100 meters, 200 metres and another gold medal as part of the 4x100 relay team.

One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 40:31, which was given to me by my grandmother just before I ran in Melbourne. "But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will be strong like eagles soaring upward on wings; they will walk and run without getting tired."

At the 1960 Rome Olympics, I was eliminated early from the 100 metres due to a hamstring tear and had to stay out of the 200 metres. I asked God whether I had done enough with my athletics gift and took the lack of reply as an indication that I could retire.

God meant everything to me, as from a little girl I believed that God had given me the gift to run and I used it. When I retired in 1960, I thought I had done enough with the gift I had. My conscience seemed free after much consideration. However, before the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, I heard a voice telling me to run again. I lay awake at night, wondering what to do. The voice came back again and again. In the end, I said out loud, "you win, I'll run again."

I set myself for the 400 metres, which was a new event for women and won my fourth gold medal. I thanked God after crossing the finish line. It was my secret. I was embarrassed at the time.

I always thought I was a Christian but in 1985 the speaker at a rally invited people to publicly declare their faith in Jesus Christ. When he said, "there are private practicing Christians here," I was compelled to go forward and prayed to receive Jesus. Now I try to share the good news of Jesus with as many people as possible.

Many people think that Christians are a bit "loopy." I don't mind that but I wish they would take the time to find out what it all means. For me, it means renewing the mind – replacing old values with the concepts of God as revealed in the Bible.

I was diagnosed as having Multiple Sclerosis in 1969 and am now confined to a motorized wheelchair. I spent the first 10 years after being diagnosed traveling to the US, Germany and the Philippines in search of a cure. Now I have accepted the MS. I have never once asked, "why me?" Because I love God so much, I've always thought it must be for a reason.

In having MS, I stand on that verse from Isaiah, because I truly believe without doubt that my body will be restored again – "as it was before."

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