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Catherine Astrid Salome "Cathy" Freeman, OAM (born 16 February 1973) is a former Australian sprinter, who specialised in the 400 metres event. Her personal best of 48.63 currently ranks her as the sixth fastest woman of all time, set while finishing second to Marie-Jose Perec's number three time at the 1996 Olympics. She became the Olympic champion for the women's 400 metres at the 2000 Summer Olympics, at which she lit the Olympic Flame.


Freeman was the first ever Aboriginal Commonwealth Games gold medalist at age 16 in 1990. 1994 was her breakthrough season. At the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Canada, Freeman won gold in both the 200 m and 400 m. She also won the silver medal in the 1996 Olympics and came first at the 1997 World Championships, both in the 400 m event. 1998 saw Freeman taking a break from running due to injury. She returned to form with a first place in the 400 m at the 1999 World Championships. She announced her retirement from athletics in 2003.

Cathy Freeman

Sportswoman (Sprinter)

Full Name

Born

Died

Catherine Astrid Salome Freeman, OAM

16 February, 1973

Mackay, Queensland

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Freeman was born in 1973 at Slade Point, Mackay, Queensland, to Norman Freeman and Cecelia. She and her brothers Gavin, Garth and Norman (who died after a motor vehicle accident on 16 September 2008) were raised there and in other parts of Queensland. She also had a sister named Anne-Marie (1966–1990) who suffered from cerebral palsy and spent much of her life in a home for the disabled. Freeman attended several schools, but was mostly educated at Fairholme College, in Toowoomba. Her parents divorced in 1978. Freeman has described how she has been influenced by early experiences with racism and also by her Bahá'í Faith. Freeman was raised a Baha'i, and says of her faith, "I'm not a devout Baha'i but I like the prayers and I appreciate their values about the equality of all human kind".


Freeman's mother Cecelia (née Sibley) was born in the Aboriginal community on Palm Island. Freeman's father was Norman Fisher; Norman was raised by his mother Geraldine Roy and his stepfather Claude Freeman. Freeman's late grandfather, Frank Fisher was an outstanding rugby player.


Freeman had a long-term romantic relationship with Nick Bideau, her manager, that ended in acrimony and legal wranglings over Freeman's endorsement earnings. Freeman married Alexander "Sandy" Bodecker, a Nike executive and 20 years her senior, in 1999. After her success in Sydney she took an extended break from the track to nurse Bodecker through a bout of throat cancer between May–October 2002. She announced their separation in February 2003.


Later that year, Freeman began dating Australian actor Joel Edgerton whom she had initially met at the 2002 TV Week Logies. Their relationship ended in early 2005.


In October 2006 Freeman announced her engagement to Melbourne stockbroker James Murch. They married at Spray Farm on the Bellarine Peninsula on 11 April 2009. Freeman gave birth to Ruby Anne Susie Murch on 8 July 2011. She joined with actress Deborah Mailman on a road trip+, a four-part television documentary series Going Bush (2006) where the pair set off on a journey from Broome to Arnhem Land spending time with Indigenous communities along the way.


In 2008, Freeman participated in Who Do You Think You Are? and discovered that her mother was of Chinese and English heritage as well as Aboriginal. As a result of a 1917 Queensland policy that Aborigines could serve in the military if they had a European parent, her paternal great grandfather, Frank Fisher served in the 11th Light Horse Regiment during WWI.


In 2009 Freeman was inducted into the Queensland Sport Hall of Fame.