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Cathy Freeman OAM

b. 1973

Catherine Freeman (b.1973), athlete, was born in Mackay, Queensland. At the age of 16 she became the first Aboriginal runner to win a Commonwealth gold medal, winning two more in 1994. As the first Aboriginal track and field athlete to represent Australia at the Olympic Games, she won a silver medal in Atlanta in 1996. She was ranked first in the world in her signature event, the 400 metres, in which she won back-to-back World Championships in 1997 and 1999, and the Olympic gold medal in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games: the first Indigenous Australian to win an Olympic gold medal.

She was the first person to be named both Young Australian of the Year (1990) and Australian of the Year (1998). Freeman retired from running in July 2003, still enjoying the immense popularity she earned during her exceptional career.

The Catherine (now ‘Cathy’) Freeman Foundation was established in 2007 with the aim of closing the education gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. Cathy Freeman believes that she has an important role to play in promoting reconciliation: for her victory lap at the Sydney Olympics she carried both the Australian and Indigenous flags.

Updated 2018