Tuesday, 8 August 2017

RIP Betty Cuthbert

As anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis knows I am no sports fan. I take very little interest in sport at all.
That said I have met several Olympic athletes - blame Middle Cat for that. She is a sports fiend and played various games to a high level - high enough to meet such people and claim one or two as friends.
There was also a former governor of this state who was an Olympic athlete - and a good deal more besides.  I met her one day in the bank - where she always insisted on being treated like everyone else and waiting in the queue because it gave her a chance to talk to people. (You would think she would have had enough of it in the role of Governor but apparently not.) 
She was a friend of the late Betty Cuthbert. I have vague memories of Cuthbert running in the Olympics but they are overshadowed by other things. 
I was much more aware of Cuthbert as someone who had multiple sclerosis. It is one of those lousy, rotten conditions that gradually rob you of everything. It can be painful. You never know from one day to the next how you are going to feel or what you are going to be able to do. You just know that each episode is going to leave you feeling less able than before. 
What must have that been like for a runner, a gold medal winning runner, a person who had been at the peak of physical perfection? What was it like for someone who had been used to moving so rapidly, with such apparent ease? 
I have no doubt that many people felt sorry for her - and yes, perhaps they also thought "that must be really hard for someone who used to be able to run like that".  Would they really have had any idea though? I doubt it. There must have been so many sleepless nights filled with "why me?" 
It is claimed she had a strong Christian faith. I hope she did. I hope it helped. If there was any such thing as purgatory Cuthbert would have done her time - many times over.
It just makes you wonder why something like multiple sclerosis has to happen to someone who was less interested in the honour and glory of winning a medal and more interested in doing her best. RIP Betty Cuthbert. You deserve it.


Jan said...

I attended Ermington Public while she was there, but I was some years behind the twins. Dad taught there for very many years before moving to the new HighSchool next door. He taught her. He had little interest in sport but was thrilled when she won her first race at Melbourne. we had just had a phone installed and he used it to ring through a telegram to her. We all stood in awe of technology as it was then.

Dad was a keen gardener and as we walked past their nursery on our trips to and from school, it was easy to call in. No mollycoddling for seedlings then. Seed was sown in narrow concrete trenches and submitted to sun and storms. He would ask Mrs Cuthbert for a dozen petunias. She took a trowel and a piece of newspaper and would shovel some seedlings into it. She appreciated dad's custom and his lowly salary and seedlings were never counted out. When he planted them out, there could be as many as fifty. The nursery is still there, but I am not sure if family is still associated with it.

As far as I know, the biggest of the old original classrooms still has a picture of Betty Cuthbert given similar prominence as the one of a youthful Queen Elizabeth.

catdownunder said...

What a lovely memory for you - and now I will probably associate petunias with her! Thanks.

Jodiebodie said...

Betty Cuthbert was in my mother's class at high school so I grew up knowing all about her and her amazing achievements. It was nice to see she was acknowledged at overseas athletics meets this week too.