May 18, 2004
GOLDEN girl Betty Cuthbert will have a new multiple sclerosis centre named in her honour.
The four-time Olympic gold medallist yesterday turned over the first sod for the MS Society's $2.4 million Betty Cuthbert Health and Wellness Centre in Blackburn.
Cuthbert, 66, said she was proud to be associated with the centre.
The former champion runner was diagnosed with the condition in 1969 and is now confined to a wheelchair. "Naturally, I feel very honoured," Cuthbert said.
"It will help so many people. It's somewhere for people to come who have MS. They'll know they're not all alone and they don't have to sit at home by themselves."
The centre will include a gym, swimming pool and therapy rooms.
Cuthbert, who lives in Perth, said she hoped to return to Melbourne for the opening in 18 months.
Copyright © 2004, News Limited
May 17, 2004
Four-time Olympic gold medallist Betty Cuthbert has turned the first sod in Melbourne at the site of a centre for people with multiple sclerosis.
The Betty Cuthbert Health and Wellness Centre at the MS Society headquarters in Blackburn will feature a swimming pool, a gymnasium and therapy rooms to help people with MS keep physically and mentally active.
Ms Cuthbert, who won three gold medals at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and another at the 1964 Tokyo games, was diagnosed with MS in 1969.
The 66-year-old said the first parts of her body to go were her legs and now she couldn't control her right hand, which was her writing hand.
So she understood how frustrating and depressing the disease could be.
"You can't do what you want to do," she said.
Apart from the focus on physical health, she said the centre would give a big mental and emotional boost to people with MS.
"It's somewhere for people to come to have someone to talk to and talk about their situation. They'll know that they're not all alone and they don't have to sit at home by themselves," she said.
MS Australia chief executive Lindsay McMillan said the centre would allow people with MS to do low-impact aerobics and tai chi in the water, as well as yoga and other stretching exercises essential to retaining strength in their muscles.
Mr McMillan said there had been a dramatic change in the way people with MS lived their lives.
"Previously people with MS were told, 'Fatigue is a big issue as a symptom, don't do anything," he said.
"But the whole new generation's (attitude) is, the more active you are the better you will feel."
Funds are still being collected for the construction of the $2.4 million
Betty Cuthbert centre, which will begin in next few weeks.
Copyright © 2004, AAP