Catherine Astrid Salome Cathy Freeman, OAM is an Australian former sprinter, who specialised in the 400 metres event. She would occasionally compete in track events, but 400m was her main event. Her personal best of 48.63 currently ranks her as the sixth fastest woman of all time and she became the Olympic champion for the womens 400 metres at the 2000 Summer Olympics, at which she lit the Olympic Flame. Freeman was the first Australian Indigenous person to become a Commonwealth Games gold medallist at age 16 in 1990, at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Canada, Freeman won gold in both the 200 m and 400 m. She also won the medal in the 1996 Olympics and came first at the 1997 World Championships. In 1998 Freeman took a break from running due to injury and she returned from injury in form with a first place in the 400 m at the 1999 World Championships. She announced her retirement from athletics in 2003, in 2007, she founded the Cathy Freeman Foundation. Cathy Freeman began athletics at the age of 2 and 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 m,200 m, high jump, 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, in 1990, Freeman was chosen as a member of Australias 4 ×100 m relay team for the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland, New Zealand. The team won the medal, making Freeman the first ever Aboriginal Commonwealth Games gold medallist, as well as one of the youngest. 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 Freemans 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 and she competed only in the 200 m, winning the silver medal behind Chinas Hu Ling. Also in 1992 she travelled to her first Olympic Games, reaching the round of her new specialty event. At the 1993 World Championships in Athletics Freeman competed in the 200 m,1994 was Freemans breakthrough season, when she entered into the worlds 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 Australias 4 ×100 m squad, winning the medal and as a member of the 4 ×400 m team
Image: Cathy Freeman (cropped)
Freeman preparing to race in the Olympic 400 m final, Sydney 2000.