Profile Catherine Astrid Salome Freeman was born on 16 February 1973 in Mackay, Queensland, Australia. The young Aborigine, known to one and all as Cathy Freeman, won her first gold medal at a school athletics championship when she was eight years old. She was coached by her stepfather until 1989. Then she moved to Brisbane where she was coached professionally after winning a scholarship.
The winning of two events at the 1994 Commonwealth Games spelt a major international breakthrough for her. Two years later, at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, she collected silver in the 400m track event finishing second to Marie-José Pérec of France. The following year she won the world title, beating Jamaica’s Sandie Richards by two hundredths of a second. At the 1999 World Championships she successfully defended her title, becoming the first woman to win successive world 400m titles. And now, she was ready for Sydney.
On 25 September 2000, Cathy Freeman claimed her moment of glory, winning the 400m Olympic title in front of a home crowd during the Sydney 2000 Olympics. The medal was Australia’s 100th Olympic gold. Freeman also became the first person to light the Olympic cauldron and then to go on to win a gold medal at the same Games.
Her last major win was at the 2002 Commonwealth Games where she was part of the winning Australian 4x400m relay team. In July 2003 Cathy Freeman officially announced her retirement. As an Aborigine, she is regarded as a role model for her people, and also seen by many as a symbol of national reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.