Tuesday, 15 September (AEST) marked twenty years since Sydney hosted the Olympics.
I was eleven when the Olympics was in Sydney in 2000. While I wasn’t really into sport, I knew that it was a major event. I even got enthusiastic about it.
Australia claimed a number of new gold medallists; joining the history books with former swimmer, Dawn Fraser and hockey champion Nova Peris. Swimmers like Grant Hackett and Ian Thorpe won Australia’s heart as well as gold medals.
So did sprinter, Cathy Freeman.
Cathy Freeman inspires generation of young Aboriginal people
According to ABC Life, a number of Aboriginal women were inspired by Freeman’s success. Author of the article, Molly Hunt described Freeman as “a legend” that “forever changed the hearts of many young black people and the nation”.
Hunt, who was an aspiring runner herself, saw herself in Freeman.
Maddie Whitford said that she felt “proud” of Freeman’s success and that she was experiencing so much media attention.
Even though Jash doesn’t consider herself a ‘sports person’, she felt inspired by Freeman’s victory sprint:
I think it was so powerful when she had two of the flags because it reinforces the statement that, firstly, she is an Aboriginal woman, and that she won that medal, not only for Australia, but for her community.
I can appreciate the impact that Freeman’s win had on young Aboriginal people. It must’ve been great to see their heritage represented on the global stage.
The torch took off around the world, like it is every four years. 1500 people were involved in the Oceania leg of the relay. Freeman ran took the torch to Olympic Park in Sydney where Freeman ignited the Ring of Fire.
The beginning and end of the Australian torch relay was significant. Nova Peris – Kneebone started the relay, and Cathy Freeman ended it.
It was a spectacular coincidence; two Aboriginal women both started and ended the Australian Olympic Torch Relay. Aboriginal pride was there for all to see. I’m sure for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, it’s an event that they’ll never forget.
400 m sprint
25 September 2000: The great moment – Cathy Freeman’s 400m sprint victory.
At 49:13 seconds, Freeman won gold. It was just short of the world (47:6 seconds) and the Olympic record (48:25 seconds).
Even though that was a monumental achievement, Freeman told the ABC that she was disappointment at her time. She thought she could do better.
The Sydney Olympics were a great chapter in Australian history. I’m sure it’s been etched in the minds of most Australians. Personally, I don’t think the 2000 Olympics have been repeated. Maybe it never will.
Media coverage 20 years on
I haven’t seen one negative article on Cathy Freeman. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that her victory wasn’t marred by politics.
The ABC, Alan Jones on Sky News Australia have expressed awe at what she achieved. It’s nice to see a news story (or history in this case), not be marred in controversy.
What are your memories of the 2000 Sydney Olympics? Feel free to leave any thoughts in the comments below.