Australian Olympian Betty "Golden Girl" Cuthbert dies, aged 79.

Australian Olympian Betty “Golden Girl” Cuthbert has died aged 79.

At just 18, Cuthbert broke onto the world stage for winning gold in the 100 and 200-metre sprints at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.

It was the first of four Olympic gold medals throughout her career. She went onto win in the 4x100m relay team at the same Olympics – making her the first Australian to be a triple gold medallist.

And, although she was injured and did not compete at the following Olympics, she bounced back and won a fourth gold medal in the 400-metre event in the 1964 Tokyo Games.

She remains the only athlete, man or woman, to win Olympic gold in the track and field 100m, 200m and 400m, AAP reports. She set nine world records during her career, and one still stands.

Betty Cuthbert. Image via Getty.

The Sydney woman - born in Merrylands in 1938 - was honoured as a torch bearer in the Sydney Olympic Games' opening ceremony in 2000.

She moved to Mandurah, south of Perth, but developed multiple sclerosis and was wheelchair-bound for many years before her death.

Tributes are flowing in from fellow athletes on social media. And Sport Australia Hall of Fame chief executive John Bertrand told the ABC Cuthbert will be dearly missed.

"Betty was a true inspiration and role model to all Australians. Her feats on the track brought together Australians as one. She loved the country and we loved her."