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More twists and upside-down rings as Freeman’s missing suit appears found

23 December 2014

AOC: The Sydney 2000 Opening Ceremony was an unforgettable event for those in Stadium Australia and the billions watching on television around the world. 

The big secret was who would be the final torchbearer and how would the cauldron be lit? 

Athletics darling Cathy Freeman was ultimately the popular choice and the breathtaking scene of her standing in a white lycra suit, lighting the water around her feet and the circular flame rising up to reveal the cauldron was spectacular. 

And then when the cauldron stalled and didn’t move - for what seemed like an eternity and Cathy stood calmly while getting drenched - everyone held their breath. The cauldron eventually jolted and moved slowly to the top of the stadium, when the manual mechanism kicked in. 

Now 14 years on there is still mystery and further drama around the suit that Freeman wore. 

On that night, 15 September 2000, she took off the wet garment in the dressing room and it was last seen hanging on a peg. There was a theory that a cleaner had picked it up and put it in a garbage bin. 

As competition got underway, the designer who made the suit, Jennifer Irwin, was asked to make a replica - which has been part of the Powerhouse Discovery Centre at Castle Hill, along with hundreds of other pieces of memorabilia from the Sydney Games. 

The mystery of the original suit, which is a major part of Australia’s Olympic history, took a dramatic twist this week when Melbourne police took possession of an item of clothing, which could be the original bodysuit. 

The clothing was mailed anonymously to the Melbourne Cricket Club, where the green and gold competition suit that Freeman ran in to win the 400m gold is kept. 

"It just came in the post," a Melbourne Cricket Club representative told AAP.

Victorian Police are currently conducting authentication checks on the garment with the final word expected to come from Freeman herself.

"Only Cathy would be the one who can really speak to that," Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) secretary-general Fiona de Jong told reporters in Sydney.

"It's a suit we never thought we'd see again and we're just delighted that Santa has delivered an early Christmas present to the Olympic movement," said de Jong.

"If it is indeed the suit then it's a wonderful moment for Australian sporting history." 

Another twist and further intrigue was confirmed today, when the designer confirmed to the AOC that the original suit that Freeman wore, actually had the Olympic rings upside down. 

Irwin told the AOC that she only received the measurements for the final torchbearer at midnight the night before and in her haste and being very tired she made a crucial mistake with the Olympic rings. 

This was then corrected in the replica that she made, however the MCC have confirmed to the AOC that the suit that was sent back anonymously did have the rings upside down - so hopefully it is in fact the original suit, last seen on 15 September 2000. 


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