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A special and rare Australian [Cathy Freeman]

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Media Release


EMBARGO: 10.30P.M.  14 OCTOBER 1999




From time to time a champion emerges who has something special and rare that sets them apart from other sporting identities. Cathy Freeman is one of these champions, the D eputy Chairman of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, Commissioner Robinson said in announcing Cathy Freeman as the 1999 National Sportswoman of the Year.


Commissioner Robinson said words failed to describe the impact that Cathy has not only bad on Australia but her people.


“What can I say, except that Cathy is simply the best," said Commissioner Robinson.


“Cathy's efforts have inspired Australians around the country. Her achievements have been born out of solid hard work and pure determination.


“She became an overnight national identity as a member of Australia’s gold medal winning 4 x 100m relay team at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland.


“With Commonwealth Gold medals, a silver Olympic medal and a two world track championships to her credit, Cathy clearly ranks as one of Australia’s most outstanding athletes.


“Cathy has already won over 30 international races, set eight Australian records and is ranked number one in the world over 400m. She has also won fifteen Victorian titles.


“While I believe that Cathy's records will stand the test of time, she has also won the respect of every Indigenous person by her public, display of her obvious Aboriginal pride, when she paraded the Aboriginal flag after one her famous victories."


Commissioner Robinson said Cathy Freeman has set another record that some, Australians might not recognise. She is the only person to have been named as both Young Australian of the Year, an honour she received in 1990, and Australian of the Year.


Commissioner Robinson said the 1999 National Sportswoman of the Year Award not only honours Cathy’s outstanding achievements as an athlete, but also recognises her unique contribution to advancing the cause of reconciliation.


"Cathy’s sportsmanship, dedication and commitment to providing a positive role model for young Australians has earned her the admiration of her fellow Australians and all sporting fails around the world.”


Commissioner Robinson reiterated his call to Australia’s national press to allow all Australian athletes to prepare properly for the forthcoming Sydney Olympics Games.


He said Cathy has paid a heavy price for her illustrious career that few Australia’s recognise.


“She has been separated from her family for long periods of time, has missed the opportunity of having a 'normal' life and has had to bear the burden of Spartan-like training sessions.


“It is impossible for her to relax in public because she is recognised wherever she goes.”


Commissioner Robinson said people have to be aware that there are pros and cons to being Cathy Freeman.


“I am sure that if Cathy is allowed to put all her efforts into preparing for next year's Olympics Games then she will produce that unique form that we call 'black magic’.”


Further information: Paul Molloy 0 419 690 926

ATSIC Office of Public Affairs





MLC TOWER BUILDING, PHILLIP, ACT, 2606. TEL: (06) 289 1222 FAX. (06) 282 2854




lk  1999-10-15  13:30