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Video: Cathy Freeman
  • September 7th, 2008

Again a continuation of Olympic withdrawal syndrome week. Here’s one from the year 2000 where Cathy Freeman ran a ‘magical’ race. I got a lump in my throat just by watching this

Cathy Freeman Success Story

Freeman began athletics at a young age, competing along with her brother Garth. Their first coach was their step-father, Bruce. By their early teens, both had a collection of regional and titles, with Cathy competing in the 100 m, 200 m and high jump.

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 was then selected to represent Australia at the 1990 World Junior Championships in Athletics in Plodiv, Bulgaria. There, she reached the semi-finals of the 100 m and placed fifth in the final of the 200 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 speciality event; the 400 m. For the 1993 World Championships in Athletics, Freeman returned to 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 4×100 m squad, winning the silver medal and as a member of the 4×400 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).

As one of the favourites for a medal at the 1995 World Championships in Athletics in Sweden, Freeman was disappointed to finish 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. This meant that she had emerged as 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 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 200 m, 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 Oslo when 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 400 m 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 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 an encounter with an Australian photographer. Freeman won the Olympic title in a time of 49.11 seconds, becoming the first ever 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 offical flag. Freeman also made the final of the 200 m, finishing seventh.

She regularly competed in the Victorian Athletic League where 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 4×400 m relay team at the 2002 Commonwealth Games. Freeman announced her retirement in 2003.

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Posted by Uncle Sha.
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