Cathy FREEMAN
Marie Claire Australia|March 2023
To mark the Olympian’s 50th birthday, we’re celebrating her spectacular career and many wins on and off the track. 
Alley Pascoe
Cathy FREEMAN

The energy in the stands at Sydney Olympic Stadium is fizzing with electricity. The air is thick with anticipation, hope and serious competitive spirit. Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, oi, oi, oi! It’s our first Olympics in 44 years and this is the moment we’ve all been waiting for: the women’s 400-metre final. All eyes are one person: Cathy Freeman. She’s jogging on the spot at the starting line, wearing a futuristic, aerodynamic, green-and-gold Nike suit and a face full of determination. Four words are running through her mind on repeat. “Do what I know,” she tells herself. “Do what I know.”

As the athletes take their places in their lanes, the American commentators set the scene: “Cathy has been waiting for this moment since ’96, Australia has waited for this moment since ’64, the Aboriginal people have waited forever.”

On your mark. Get set. Go! When the starting gun fires, the stadium erupts with flashes of lightning. Except it isn’t lightning, it’s the flashes of thousands of cameras wanting to capture this moment. And what a moment it is. In 49.11 seconds, Freeman makes sporting history in lane six. She strides ahead of her competitors and takes first place in a blaze of glory. She’s done it. She’s won. And she’s become the first Aboriginal athlete to win an individual Olympic gold for Australia.

At the finish line, when Freeman breaks down in tears, Australia cries alongside her. When she does a victory lap, flying both the Australian and Aboriginal flags, we cheer her on, “our Cathy,” our golden girl.

This story is from the March 2023 edition of Marie Claire Australia.

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This story is from the March 2023 edition of Marie Claire Australia.

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