Catherine (Cathy) Freeman was born in Mackay in Queensland. She won her first gold medal at a school athletics championship when she was eight years old. Cathy Freeman's stepfather, Bruce Barber, coached her until 1989. Cathy Freeman's family was poor and, like many Australian Aboriginals, suffered discrimination from white Australians. Once, after winning many races at a primary school competition, Cathy, who wasn't given a trophy, had to watch as the white girls she had beaten received trophies. Her family worked hard to raise the money Cathy needed to take her to competitions in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. The family moved to Brisbane in 1989 to be near Cathy, who had won a scholarship to Kooralbyn International School where she was being professionally coached by Mike Danila. In 1990 Cathy moved to Melbourne.
At the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland, New Zealand, Cathy won a gold medal as a member of the 4 x 100 metres relay team. With this medal win, she became the first female Australian Aboriginal to win a gold medal at an international athletics event.
Cathy Freeman won the 200 metres and the 400 metres at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Canada. After her first win, Cathy ran a lap of honour carrying the Aboriginal flag and the Australian flag. The chief of the Australian team criticised her, and said she must not do it again. After her second win, Cathy defiantly carried both flags around the track. The Australian public loved it, with three out of four agreeing with her action.
In 1997, at the World Athletic Championships in Athens, Greece, Cathy won the 400 metres sprint.
At the World Athletic Championships in 1999 in Seville, Spain, Cathy successfully defended her 400 metres sprint title.
Barcelona 1992 In 1992 Cathy Freeman was chosen to compete at the Barcelona Olympics. Although she did not make it to the finals of her event, the 400 metres, she had become the first Australian Aboriginal to represent Australia at an Olympics.
Cathy's main rival at the Atlanta Olympics was Marie-Jose Perec of France. In an exciting race in which Freeman led for much of the distance, Perec closed the gap and passed Cathy in the last 80 metres. Cathy Freeman's time of 48.63 seconds was a personal best and she won a silver medal.
Cathy had the honour of lighting the Olympic flame at these games and won the 400 metres.
In 2003 she was in training for the World Championships and hoped to represent Australia at the Athens Olympics in 2004.
However, on 15 July 2003 Cathy Freeman announced her retirement from competitive running.
On 15 March 2006, she was one of the final runners in the Queen's Baton Relay, bringing the baton into the MCG at the Opening Ceremony of the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
A new Cathy Freeman website will open soon. Go here for information: http://domain2013117.sites.fasthosts.com/
Acknowledge this page in your bibliography like this:
Thomas, Ron. & Sydenham, Shirley. Cathy Freeman [Online] www.kidcyber.com.au (2009)
Back to People and Places
Back to Olympics Index
August 2009 copyright © kidcyber