- Cathy Freeman
Catherine Astrid Salome Freeman, OAM (known as Cathy Freeman) (born 16 February 1973) is an Australian sprinter who is particularly associated with the 400 metres race. She became the Olympic champion for 400m in 2000. Freeman was born in Slade Point,
Mackay, Queensland, where the local athletics track is named after her.
Freeman began athletics at a young age, competing along with her brother Garth and Norman. Their first coach was their stepfather, Bruce. By their early teens, both had a collection of regional and titles, with Cathy competing in the
100 metres, 200 metresand high jump.In 1990, Freeman was chosen as a member of Australia's 4x100m relay team for the 1990 Commonwealth Gamesin Auckland, New Zealand. The team won the gold medal, making Freeman the first ever Aboriginal Commonwealth Games gold medallist, as well as one of the youngest, at 16 years old. She was then selected to represent Australia at the 1990 World Junior Championships in Athleticsin Plovdiv, Bulgaria. There, she reached the semi-finals of the 100m and placed fifth in the final of the 200m.
Freeman competed in her second World Junior Championships in
Seoul, South Korea. She competed only in the 200m, winning the silver medal behind China's Hu Ling. Also in 1992, she travelled to her first Olympic Games, reaching the second round of her new speciality event; the 400 metres. For the 1993 World Championships in Athletics, Freeman returned to the 200m, reaching the semi-finals.
1994 was Freeman's breakthrough season, when she entered into the world's elite for the first time. Competing at the
1994 Commonwealth Gamesin Canada, Freeman won gold in both the 200m and 400m. She also competed as a member of Australia's 4x100m squad, winning the silver medal and as a member of the 4x400m team, who finished first but were later disqualified. During the 1994 season, Freeman took 1.3 seconds from her 400m personal best, achieving 50.04 seconds. She also set all-time personal bests in the 100m (11.24) and 200m (22.25).
As one of the favourites for a medal at the
1995 World Championships in Athleticsin Sweden, Freeman was disappointed to finish fourth. She also reached the semi-finals of the 200m.
Freeman made more progress during the 1996 season, setting many personal bests and Australian records. This meant that she had emerged as the biggest challenger to France's
Marie-José Pérecat the 1996 Olympics. She eventually took the silver medal behind Pérec, in an Australian record of 48.63 seconds. This is still the sixth fastest time ever and the second fastest since 1985. Pérec's winning time of 48.25 was an Olympic record and the third fastest ever.
Pérec chose to spend the 1997 season concentrating on 200m, so Freeman became the favourite for that year's World Championships in
Athens. Freeman lived up to this, winning the World title in 49.77 seconds. In fact, Freeman's only loss at 400 m, this season came in Oslowhen injuring her foot.
Freeman took a break for the 1998 season, due to injury. Upon her return to the track in 1999, Freeman did not lose a single 400m race, including at the World Championships, where she defended her World title.
Her win streak continued into the 2000 season, despite Marie-José Pérec's return to the track. Freeman was the home favourite for the 400m title at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, where she was expected to face-off with rival Pérec. This showdown never happened, as Pérec left the Games after an encounter with an Australian photographer. Freeman won the Olympic title in a time of 49.11 seconds, becoming the second ever (the first was
Nova Peris-Kneebonefor field hockey in Atlanta) Australian Aboriginal Olympic champion. After the race, Freeman took a victory lap, carrying both the Aboriginal and Australian flags. This was despite the fact that unofficial flags are banned at the Olympic Games and the Aboriginal flag is not an official flag. Freeman also made the final of the 200 m, finishing sixth, after Marion Jones was disqualified. In honor of her gold medal win in Sydney, she represented Oceania in carrying the Olympic flag at the opening ceremonies of the next Olympics, in Salt Lake City, joining Archbishop Desmond Tutu(Africa), John Glenn(The Americas), Kazuyoshi Funaki(Asia), Lech Wałęsa(Europe), Jean-Michel Cousteau(Environment), Jean-Claude Killy(Sport), and Steven Spielberg(Culture) [ [http://www.olympic.org/common/asp/launchvideo.asp?name=2002w_opening_cer_high.wmv Opening Ceremony - Salt Lake City 2002] ] [ [http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/feb2002/2002-02-11-01.asp Cousteau Represents Environment at Winter Olympics ] ]
She regularly competed in the
Victorian Athletic Leaguewhere she won two 400m races at the Stawell gift.
After her Olympic triumph, Freeman chose to take a break from the track, not competing during the 2001 season. During 2002, Freeman returned to the track to compete as a member of Australia's victorious 4x400m relay team at the
2002 Commonwealth Games.
Freeman announced her retirement in 2006.
Freeman was born in
Mackay, Queensland. She and her brothers Gavin, Garth and Norman (who died after a motor vehicle accident on 16 September, 2008) [cite news|url=http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,24359385-952,00.html|title=Cathy Freeman's brother killed in car crash|date=2008-09-17|work= The Courier-Mail|accessdate=2008-09-17] were raised there and in other parts of Queensland. She also had a sister Anne-Marie (1966–1990) who suffered from cerebral palsyand spent much of her life in a home for the disabled. Freeman was educated at the Fairholme College, in Toowoomba. Her parents separated when she was at a young age and her mother re-married when Cathy was eleven. Freeman has mentioned, in her book and documentary, how her early experiences with racism and faith as a Bahá'í, have influenced her [ [http://www.abc.net.au/message/tv/ms/s1584631.htm "Cos I'm Free (AKA Cathy Freeman)" Transcript of Program] ] . Freeman was raised a Baha'i, and says of her faith, "I'm not a devout Baha'i but I like the prayers and I appreciate their values about the equality of all human kind". [ [http://www.theage.com.au/news/tv--radio/the-love-and-pain-that-inspire-cathy/2006/03/08/1141701518668.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap1 The love and pain that inspire Cathy, Top athlete may journey from the winner's podium to the Academy Awards] by Michael Dwyer, "The Age", March 9, 2006] [ [http://www.penguin.com.au/lookinside/spotlight.cfm?SBN=9780143302384&page=extract Born to Run (extract)] Chapter 1 Running Free, Penguin Group (Australia)]
Freeman had a long-term romantic relationship with Nic Bideau, her manager, that ended in acrimony and legal wranglings over Freeman's endorsement earnings [ [http://smh.com.au/news/commentary/mottrams-manipulator/2006/03/21/1142703363720.html Bideau's methods are make or break] - by
Raelene Boyle- publisher: SMH (22 March 2006)] .Freeman married Sandy Bodecker, a Nike executive, in 1999. After her success in Sydney she took an extended break from the track to nurse Bodecker through a bout of cancer. She announced their separation in February 2003. Freeman also dated actor Joel Edgertonfor a period of time after her retirement.
In October 2006 Freeman announced her engagement to Melbourne stockbroker James Murch. [cite news|url=http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,20567247-421,00.html|title=Cathy Freeman to wed again|last=Sheahan|first=Kate|coauthors=Gullan, Scott|date=2006-10-12|work=
*In 2001, Freeman received the Olympic Order from
Juan Antonio Samaranch.
Laureusnamed Freeman Sportswoman of the Year in 2001.
IAAFprofile for [http://www.iaaf.org/athletes/biographies/country=AUS/athcode=63105/index.html Cathy Freeman]
* [http://www.cathyfreeman.com.au Official Website]
* [http://www.catherinefreemanfoundation.com/ The Catherine Freeman Foundation]
* [http://www.athletics.com.au/history/athletes/athlete32.htm Profile]
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