Freeman at the Olympic 400m final, Sydney 2000
|Full name||Catherine Astrid Salome "Cathy" Freeman|
February 16, 1973 |
|Competitor for Australia|
|Gold||2000 Sydney||400 m|
|Silver||1996 Atlanta||400 m|
|Gold||1997 Athens||400 m|
|Gold||1999 Seville||400 m|
|Bronze||1995 Gothenburg||4 × 400 m relay|
|Gold||1990 Auckland||4 × 100 m|
|Gold||1994 Victoria||200 m|
|Gold||1994 Victoria||400 m|
|Gold||2002 Manchester||4 × 400 m|
|Silver||1994 Victoria||4 × 100 m|
Catherine Astrid Salome "Cathy" Freeman, OAM (born 16 February 1973) is a former Australian sprinter, who specialised in the 400 metres event. She became the Olympic champion for the women's 400 metres at the 2000 Summer Olympics, at which she lit the Olympic Flame. Freeman was the first ever Aboriginal Commonwealth Games gold medalist at age 16 in 1990. 1994 was her breakthrough season. At the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Canada, Freeman won gold in both the 200 m and 400 m. She also won the silver medal in the 1996 Olympics and came first at the 1997 World Championships, both in the 400 m event. 1998 saw Freeman taking a break from running due to injury. She returned to form with a first place in the 400 m at the 1999 World Championships. She announced her retirement from athletics in 2003.
Freeman began athletics at a very young age. Her first coach was her stepfather, Bruce Barber. By her early teens she had a collection of regional and national titles, having competed in the 100 metres, 200 metres, high jump and long jump.
In 1987, Freeman moved on to Kooralbyn International School to be coached professionally by Romanian Mike Danila, who became her first real coach and later a key influence throughout her career; he provided a strict training regime for the young athlete.
In 1988, she was awarded a scholarship to an exclusive girls' school, Fairholme College in Toowoomba. In a competition in 1989, Freeman ran 11.67s in the 100 metres and Danila began to think about entering her in the Commonwealth Games Trials in Sydney.
In 1990, Freeman was chosen as a member of Australia's 4 × 100 m relay team for the 1990 Commonwealth Games in 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 moved to Melbourne in 1990 after the Auckland Commonwealth Games. Shortly after moving to Melbourne Nic Bideau, her manager, introduced Freeman to athletics coach Peter Fortune, who would become Freeman's coach for the rest of her career. She was then selected to represent Australia at the 1990 World Junior Championships in Athletics in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. There, she reached the semi-finals of the 100 m and placed fifth in the final of the 400 m.
Freeman competed in her second World Junior Championships in Seoul, South Korea. She competed only in the 200 m, 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 specialty event; the 400 metres. At the 1993 World Championships in Athletics Freeman competed in the 200 m, 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 Games in Canada, Freeman won gold in both the 200 m and 400 m. She also competed as a member of Australia's 4x100 m squad, winning the silver medal and as a member of the 4x400 m team, who finished first but were later disqualified. During the 1994 season, Freeman took 1.3 seconds from her 400 m personal best, achieving 50.04 seconds. She also set all-time personal bests in the 100 m (11.24) and 200 m (22.25).
Although a medal favourite at the 1995 World Championships in Athletics in Sweden, Freeman finished fourth. She also reached the semi-finals of the 200 m.
Freeman made more progress during the 1996 season, setting many personal bests and Australian records. By this stage, she was the biggest challenger to France's Marie-José Pérec at 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 the world record was set in Canberra, Australia in 1985. Only Sanya Richards-Ross has come within a quarter of a second of Freeman's time since. Pérec's winning time of 48.25 is the Olympic record and the third fastest ever.
Her winning streak continued into the 2000 season, despite Pérec's return to the track. Freeman was the home favorite for the 400 m 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 what she describes as harassment from strangers. Freeman won the Olympic title in a time of 49.11 seconds, becoming only the second Australian Aboriginal Olympic champion (the first was Freeman's 4x400 teammate Nova Peris-Kneebone who won for field hockey 4 years earlier in Atlanta). 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, while recognized as official in Australia, is not a national flag, nor recognized by the International Olympic Committee. Freeman also made the final of the 200 m, coming sixth. In honour 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).
Throughout her career, Freeman regularly competed in the Victorian Athletic League where she won two 400 m races at the Stawell Gift Carnival. Freeman did not compete during the 2001 season. In 2002, she returned to the track to compete as a member of Australia's victorious 4x400 m relay team at the 2002 Commonwealth Games.
Freeman announced her retirement in 2003.
Since retiring from athletics Freeman has become involved in a range of community and charitable activities. She is an Ambassador of the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation.
Freeman was appointed as an Ambassador for Cottage by the Sea, alongside celebrity chef Curtis Stone and big wave surfer Jeff Rowley. Cottage by the Sea is one of Australia's oldest charities and each year provides short-term beachside holidays and respite care for more than 900 children and families in need.
Freeman was born in 1973 at Slade Point, Mackay, Queensland, to Norman Freeman and Cecelia. She and her brothers Gavin, Garth and Norman (who died after a motor vehicle accident on 16 September 2008)  were raised there and in other parts of Queensland. She also had a sister named Anne-Marie (1966–1990) who suffered from cerebral palsy and spent much of her life in a home for the disabled. Freeman attended several schools, but was mostly educated at Fairholme College, in Toowoomba. Her parents divorced in 1978. Freeman has described how she has been influenced by early experiences with racism and also by her Bahá'í faith. 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".
Freeman's mother Cecelia (née Sibley) was born in the Aboriginal community on Palm Island. Freeman's father Norman's father was Frank Fisher; Norman was raised by his mother Geraldine Roy and his stepfather Claude Freeman. Freeman's late grandfather, Frank Fisher was an outstanding rugby player.
Freeman had a long-term romantic relationship with Nic Bideau, her manager, that ended in acrimony and legal wranglings over Freeman's endorsement earnings. Freeman married Sandy Bodecker, a Nike executive and 20 years her senior, in 1999. After her success in Sydney she took an extended break from the track to nurse Bodecker through a bout of throat cancer between May–October 2002. She announced their separation in February 2003.
In October 2006 Freeman announced her engagement to Melbourne stockbroker James Murch. They married at Spray Farm on the Bellarine Peninsula on 11 April 2009. Freeman gave birth to Ruby Anne Susie Murch on 8 July 2011.
She joined with actress Deborah Mailman on a road trip+, a four-part television documentary series Going Bush (2006) where the pair set off on a journey from Broome to Arnhem Land spending time with Indigenous communities along the way.
In 2008, Freeman participated in Who Do You Think You Are? and discovered that her mother was of Chinese and English heritage as well as Aboriginal. As a result of a 1917 Queensland policy that Aborigines could serve in the military if they had a European parent, her paternal great grandfather, Frank Fisher served in the 11th Light Horse Regiment during WWI.
On her right arm, the side closest to the spectators on an athletics track, she had the words "Cos I'm Free" tattooed mid-way between her shoulder and elbow.
|100 m||11.24||+1.1||Brisbane, Australia||5 February 1994|
|200 m||22.25||+1.3||Victoria, Canada||26 August 1994|
|300 m||36.42||–||Mexico City, Mexico||3 May 2003|
|400 m||48.63||–||Atlanta, United States||29 July 1996|
|1990||Commonwealth Games||Auckland, New Zealand||1st||4x100 m relay|
|1990||World Junior Championships||Plovdiv, Bulgaria||5th||200 m|
|5th||4x100 m relay|
|1992||Summer Olympics||Barcelona, Spain||7th||4x400 m relay|
|1992||World Junior Championships||Seoul, South Korea||2nd||200 m|
|6th||4x400 m relay|
|1994||Commonwealth Games||Victoria Canada||1st||200 m|
|2nd||4x100 m relay|
|1994||IAAF Grand Prix Final||Paris, France||2nd||400 m|
|1995||World Championships||Gothenburg, Sweden||4th||400 m|
|3rd||4x400 m relay|
|1996||Summer Olympics||Atlanta, United States||2nd||400 m|
|1996||IAAF Grand Prix Final||Milan, Italy||1st||400 m|
|1997||World Championships||Athens, Greece||1st||400 m|
|1999||World Championships||Seville, Spain||1st||400 m|
|6th||4x100 m relay|
|1999||World Indoor Championships||Maebashi, Japan||2nd||400 m|
|2000||Summer Olympics||Sydney, Australia||1st||400 m|
|5th||4x400 m relay|
|2002||Commonwealth Games||Manchester, Great Britain||1st||4x400 m relay|
|1990||Australian Championships||Melbourne, Australia||2nd||100 m|
|1990||Australian Championships||Melbourne, Australia||1st||200 m|
|1991||Australian Championships||Sydney, Australia||1st||200 m|
|1992||Australian Championships||Adelaide, Australia||2nd||200 m|
|1992||Australian Championships||Adelaide, Australia||3rd||400 m|
|1993||Australian Championships||Queensland, Australia||2nd||200 m|
|1994||Australian Championships||Sydney, Australia||1st||100 m|
|1994||Australian Championships||Sydney, Australia||1st||200 m|
|1995||Australian Championships||Sydney, Australia||2nd||200 m|
|1995||Australian Championships||Sydney, Australia||1st||400 m|
|1996||Australian Championships||Sydney, Australia||1st||100 m|
|1996||Australian Championships||Sydney, Australia||1st||200 m|
|1997||Australian Championships||Melbourne, Australia||2nd||200 m|
|1997||Australian Championships||Melbourne, Australia||1st||400 m|
|1998||Australian Championships||Melbourne, Australia||2nd|
|1999||Australian Championships||Melbourne, Australia||1st||400 m|
|2000||Australian Championships||Sydney, Australia||1st||200 m|
|2000||Australian Championships||Sydney, Australia||1st||400 m|
|2003||Australian Championships||Brisbane, Australia||1st||400 m|
|2000||Golden League 2000 – Exxon Mobil Bislett Games||Oslo, Norway||1st||400 m|
|2000||Golden League 2000 – Herculis Zepter||Monaco||1st||400 m|
|2000||Golden League 2000 – Meeting Gaz de France de Paris||Paris, France||1st||200 m|
|2000||Golden League 2000 – Memorial Van Damme||Brussels, Belgium||1st||400 m|
|2000||Grand Prix 2000 – Athletissima 2000||Lausanne, Switzerland||1st||400 m|
|2000||Grand Prix 2000 – CGU Classic||Gateshead, Great Britain||1st||200 m|
|2000||Grand Prix 2000 – Melbourne Track Classic||Melbourne, Australia||1st||400 m|
|2000||Grand Prix 2000 – Tsiklitiria Meeting||Athens, Greece||1st||400 m|
- Australian of the Year 1998
- Australian Sports Medal 2000
- Centenary Medal 2001
- Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) 2001
- In 2001, Freeman received the Olympic Order from Juan Antonio Samaranch
- Laureus named Freeman Sportswoman of the Year in 2001
- Arthur Ashe Courage Award 2001
- Deadly Awards 2003 – Female Sportsperson of the Year
- Sport Australia Hall of Fame induction in 2005
- TorchRelay – Photos: Cathy Freeman lights the Olympic Flame. The Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad.
- John Ashdown (11 January 2012). "50 stunning Olympic moments No9: Cathy Freeman wins gold for Australia". The Guardian.
- Cathy Freeman: The athletic proud of Australia[dead link]
- Sebastian Coe (14 January 2001). "Athletics: Making of a legend". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 April 2008.
- Eamonn Condon (27 May 2001). "Freeman, still on top of the world". The Electronic Telegraph. Retrieved 10 March 2008.
- "SYDNEY 2000; Perec Says Fear Overwhelmed Her". The New York Times. 29 September 2000. Retrieved 2 June 2012.
- "Indigenous leaders want officials to drop ban on flags". The Age. 1 August 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- "Olympic flags rule sparks anger". BBC News. 5 August 2008. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- Wallechinsky, David; Loucky, Jaime. The Complete Book of the Olympics. Aurum Press, 2008, p. 300.
- Johnson, Len (16 July 2003). "Cathy Freeman retires". The Age (Melbourne). Retrieved 4 January 2010.
- Australian Indigenous Education Foundation. Retrieved 16 July 2011.
- "Freeman champions kids' cottage cause". geelongadvertiser.com.au. 22 December 2007. Retrieved 3 April 2012.
- Michael, Peter (17 September 2008). "Cathy Freeman's brother killed in car crash". The Courier-Mail. Retrieved 17 September 2008.
- Catherine Freeman Who Do You Think You Are?. SBS One.
- Cos I'm Free (AKA Cathy Freeman). 10 March 2006. Message Stick. Program transcript.
- 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, 9 March 2006
- Born to Run (extract) Chapter 1 Running Free, Penguin Group (Australia)
- Hemming, Wally (9 September 2008). "Indigenous NRL team named". The Daily Telegraph (Australia). Retrieved 28 March 2010.
- Raelene Boyle (22 March 2006) " Bideau's methods are make or break". SMH
- Brendan Gallagher (24 June 2004). Cathy Freeman tells her story. The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group.
- Jacquelin Magnay (8 November 2002) Sandy beats cancer. The Sydney Morning Herald.
- (21 January 2005). Cathy and Joel split. The Age. The Age Company.
- Sheahan, Kate; Gullan, Scott (12 October 2006). "Cathy Freeman to wed again". news.com.au. Retrieved 22 July 2008.[dead link]
- "Sprinter Freeman walks down the aisle". smh.com.au. 12 April 2009. Retrieved 12 April 2009.
- Nino Bucci (8 July 2011). Cathy Freeman gives birth. The Age. Fairfax Media.
- "Going Bush - Series 1". ABC Shop. Retrieved 16 May 2013.
- Going Bush at the Internet Movie Database
- Cathy's family secrets – publisher: The Daily Telegraph (13 January 2008)
- Coulter, Michael (12 November 2006). "Sporting tattoos". Melbourne: The Age. Retrieved 21 February 2010.
- Lewis, Wendy (2010). Australians of the Year. Pier 9 Press. ISBN 978-1-74196-809-5.
- It's an Honour entry – Australian Sports Medal – 26 January 2001 Citation: World Champion 1997 and 1999, Commonwealth Champion 1994, VIS Award of Excellence 1997
- It's an Honour entry – Centenary Medal – 1 January 2001 Citation: For outstanding service through sport
- It's an Honour entry – Medal of the Order of Australia – 26 January 2001 Citation: For service to sport, particularly athletics
- International Olympic Committee – News for 21 June 2001
- "Catherine Freeman OAM". Sport Australia Hall of Fame. Retrieved 21 September 2013.
- McGreggor, A. (1998) Cathy Freeman; A Journey Just Begun. Milsons Point, Random House Australia. ISBN 0-09-183649-2
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Cathy Freeman.|
- IAAF profile for Cathy Freeman
- Athletics Australia profile for Catherine Freeman
- Official Website
- The Catherine Freeman Foundation
- Powerhouse Museum collection
- Australian Indigenous Education Foundation
|Awards and achievements|
|World Sportswoman of the Year
|Final Summer Olympic Torchbearer