Cathy Freeman – Gold Medalist in Track
Cathy Freeman is an Australian track and field athlete. She was the first Aborigine ever to compete in the Olympics. When Cathy won the 400-meter world championship in 1997, she ran a victory lap carrying two flags: one of her country, Australia, the other of her people, the Aboriginals. It showed her strong sense of national and ethnic pride.
Catherine Astrid Salome Freeman was born on February 16, 1973 in Mackay, Queensland, Australia.
Freeman had a difficult childhood. Both her younger sister and her father died. Her mother encouraged her to pursue her interest in athletics.
At the age of 15, she competed at the National School Championships.
By the time Freeman was 17 years old, she had won a gold medal at the 1990 Commonwealth Games and been named Young Australian of the Year.
In the early 1990s she met Nick Bideau, an Australian track official. He became her coach, manager, and boyfriend.
In 1991 she became Aboriginal Athlete of the Year.
In 1992 she was the first Australian Aboriginal woman to compete in the Olympic Games. At the World Junior Championships she won a silver medal in the 200 meters.
At the 1994 Commonwealth Games her win in the 200-meter race set a national record.
At the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Freeman won a silver medal in the 400 meters. She set four Australian records in the 400 meters.
In 1997 Freeman was named Australian of the Year.
A year later she injured her foot but didn’t let the injury stop her.
In 1999, Freeman met Alexander Bodecker, and the two fell in love. On September 19, 1999 Freeman married Bodecker in San Francisco.
At the Sydney Olympics in 2000, Freeman had the great honor of lighting the Olympic torch. A week later she won Olympic gold at the 400-meter race.
In 2001 Freeman received Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award.
In the next year she won gold medal at Commonwealth Games.