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Cathy Freeman



 

Cathy Freeman is an Australia-based athlete who has won several titles in 200m, 400m and 400m relay races. Cathy Freeman appeared on to the athletic scenario after winning the race in 1996 Olympic Games. Cathy Freeman is regarded as a role model for all Aboriginal people as she is the first Aboriginal Australian to receive international acclaim.

Cathy Freeman was born in MacKay in Queensland, Australia. She was interested in athletics from a very tender age. Cathy Freeman won her first gold medal at the age of 8 years in a school athletics meet. Her stepfather, Bruce Barber, was her initial coach who trained her till 1989. Cathy Freeman belonged to a poor family and had face to constant racial discrimination from the white Australians. Once she was even denied her medal which was given to the white Australian girls. She won a scholarship to Kooralbyn International School in 1989 and shifted her base to Brisbane. In the school, Cathy Freeman received professional guidance from Coach Mike Danila. In the year 1990, she finally moved to Melbourne.

Cathy Freeman won a gold medal at the 1990 Commonwealth Games organized in Auckland, New Zealand. She was a member of the 4X100 metres relay group and became the first female Australian Aboriginal to acquire a gold medal in an international event. She won the 200 and 400 metre races at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada. At this event, Cathy Freeman stirred a huge controversy when she waved the Australian flag along with the Aboriginal flag during her victory lap. She was criticized by the Australian team’s manager for her action and was instructed not to repeat this kind of action. However, after her second victory she again carried both the flags in a defiant way. At the World Athletic Championships of Athens, Greece in the year 1997, Cathy Freeman won the 400 metres race. She also won the same title in 1999 at Seville, Spain.

Although Cathy Freeman became the first Australian Aboriginal representative at the Barcelona Olympics, 1992, she could not compete for the finals of the 400 metre race. At the Atlanta Olympics of 1996, Cathy Freeman faced a stiff competition from Marie-Jose Perec, a French athlete. Throughout the race, Freeman was far ahead of Marie but in the last 80 metres, Marie closed the distance and won the race. Cathy Freeman won a silver medal in the race and recorded the personal best time of 48.63 seconds. At the Sydney Olympics of 2000, she won the 400 metres race and also had the honor of lighting the Olympic flame. She became the first and only Australian Aboriginal to receive this honor. Cathy Freeman hoped to represent Australia at the Athens Olympics in 2004, however on 15 July, 2003 she announced her retirement from the field of competitive running.

On her personal front, Cathy Freeman was into a long-term relation with her manager-cum-friend Nick Bideau but the relation did not last. Then she married Sandy Bodecker, an executive of Nike, but she broke up with him also.

On 15 July 2006, Cathy Freeman was among the final runners of the Queen’s Baton Relay and brought the baton into the MCG during the Opening Ceremony of the 2006 Commonwealth Games which were held in Melbourne, Australia.

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