Cathy Freeman

1973 -

Cathy Freeman’s role in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games embedded her name forever in Olympic history. She lit the cauldron in the Olympic Stadium - after the torch had been handled by six Australian women, who had between them won 15 gold medals - in an Opening Ceremony that celebrated both a century of women’s participation and the heritage of indigenous Australians. Eleven nights later she fulfilled a mission that had absorbed her life: she won the 400m final, becoming the athlete of the Games. The weight of expectations she carried into that race was enormous. Apart from the hopes of a nation, there was an extra load - 200 years of history. Fourth out of the blocks, she appeared to catapult herself clear of her rivals in the straight. Later she danced through a victory lap, carrying Australian and Aboriginal flags. Not since 1964, when Betty Cuthbert was successful over the same distance in Tokyo, had an Australian woman won a flat race on the track at the Games.

Freeman grew up in Mackay, Queensland, and was a natural athlete from early childhood. Asked at 14 by a vocational officer what she wanted to do after school days, she said: “I want to win gold medals at the Olympic Games.” And after that? “I don’t care.” At 16 she won the 4 x 100m relay gold at the Auckland Commonwealth Games. At the Atlanta 1996 Games she became the first Aboriginal medallist, by finishing second to Marie-Jose Perec in the 400m. After that she won back-to-back world championships over the distance in 1997 and 1999. By Sydney, at 27, she was stronger, tougher mentally, and ready.

Harry Gordon, AOC historian

 

Olympic Results

2000 Sydney

200m - Women
Round 2 22.75 3rd
Round 1 23.11 3rd
Semi Final 22.71 4th
Final 22.53 7th
Final Placing 7 / 54
400m - Women
Round 1 51.63 1st
Round 2 50.31 1st
Semi Final 50.01 1st
Final 49.11 1st
Final Placing 1 / 59
4 x 400m Relay - Women
Round 1 3:24.05 2nd
Final PERIS-KNEEBONE, N; LEWIS, T; GAINSFORD-TAYLOR, M; FREEMAN, C 3:23.81 5th
Final Placing 5 / 23

1996 Atlanta

200m - Women
Round 1 23.25 Q 3
Round 2 22.74 Q 4
Semi Final 22.78 6
Final Placing 11 / 48
400m - Women
Round 1 51.99 Q 2
Round 2 50.43 Q 1
Semi Final 50.32 Q 1
Final 48.63 2
Final Placing 2 / 49
4 x 100m Relay - Women
Round 1 CRIPPS, S; HANIGAN, K; HEWITT, L; LAMBERT, J 43.75 Q 3
Final CRIPPS, S; HANIGAN, K; HEWITT, L; LAMBERT, J 43.70 7
Final Placing 7 / 22
4 x 400m Relay - Women
Round 1 NAYLOR, L; HANIGAN, K; GAINSFORD- TAYLOR, M; POETSCHKA, R 3:33.78 7
Final Placing 11 / 15

1992 Barcelona

400m - Women
Round 1 53.70 Q 3
Round 2 51.52 5
Final Placing 17 / 41
4 x 400m Relay - Women
Round 1 ANDREWS, S; POETSCHKA, R; FREEMAN, C; LOCK, M 3:25.68 Q 3
Final FREEMAN, C; ANDREWS, S; POETSCHKA, R; LOCK, M 3:26.42 7
Final Placing 7 / 14