Cathy FREEMAN

Cathy Freeman - Australia - Dream comes true in Sydney : Olympic Champion.

Photo/Foto: George Herringshaw

Date: 25 September 2000

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    • DATE OF BIRTH
      Friday, 16 February 1973
    • PLACE OF BIRTH
      Mackay, Australia.
  • INTERNATIONAL
  • Australia
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Cathy FREEMAN - Australia - Dream comes true in Sydney : Olympic Champion.

 

Ever since 1993, when it was announced that Sydney would host the 2000 Olympic Games, Cathy Freeman had dreamt of something which few athletes even have the opportunity to achieve, winning an Olympic Gold medal in her own country. As reigning world champion and with a good season prior to the Games, Freeman was clearly the favourite for the 400m at Sydney. The only real threat seemed to come from her old rival Marie-Jose Perec who had come back very well from a long illness. Both Perec and Freeman had successful European seasons, although, as in 1996, they did not compete against each prior to the Games.

 

The only person mooted as a threat was her old rival and defending champion Marie-Jose Perec, but that was more from reputation than from recent form. Perec, returning from a long illness, had had an indifferent European season, unlike Freeman's, which had been very successful. Besides having the opportunity to represent her country, Cathy had an added honour at the Olympic Games when she was chosen to light the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony. Before the track competition started, Perec, who had been subjected to a lot of media attention since arriving in Sydney due to her rivalry with Freeman, suddenly, and rather mysteriously left Sydney and returned to France.

 

This now made Freeman an overwhelming favourite, and the pressure upon her must have been enormous. Although Australia had other Olympic representatives who were gold medal favourites, by far the largest media coverage was devoted to Cathy. Freeman's start in the final was conservative, but she always had the race under control, winning as she liked in 49.11sec, well clear of Jamaica's Lorraine Graham (49.58sec) and Britain's Katherine Merry (49.72sec.). Almost anticlimactically, Freeman delivered two more noteworthy performances.

 

Three days after her 400m victory she came 7th in the 200m, and two days after that she anchored the Australian 4 x 400m relay team to a 5th place finish in 3min. 23.81sec, breaking the Australian national record which had stood since the 1976 Olympics. (Ron Casey)