Legendary Australian sprinter Cathy Freeman OAM became the sixth official Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (GC2018) Ambassador in Brisbane today.
The announcement was made by Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation (GOLDOC) Chairman, Peter Beattie AC and Premier of Queensland, the Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk MP at a public event in the Queensland capital.
Freeman became a global household name after her historic 400m gold medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games which 17 years on is regarded as one of Australia’s most significant sporting achievements and an iconic Olympic moment.
The first female Aboriginal athlete to win gold at a Commonwealth Games, at Auckland 1990 at age 16, Freeman announced herself as one of the world’s best in 1994 when she won gold in both the 200m and 400m at the Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada.
She retired from international competition in 2003 and founded the Cathy Freeman Foundation in 2007 to help broaden horizons and inspire Indigenous students to experience their full potential in school. Freeman has also played a mentor role for some of Australia’s best athletes, including 400m champion Morgan Mitchell.
The Olympic and Commonwealth Games gold medallist joins Sally Pearson OAM, Cameron McEvoy, Anna Meares OAM, Laura Geitz and Kurt Fearnley OAM as a welcome member of the GC2018 Ambassador family.
Freeman is the sixth of a select group of high profile figures who will assist GOLDOC with the promotion of the 4-15 April 2018 Games to Australia and the rest of the world.
To mark the occasion, Freeman was presented with a commemorative surfboard – an iconic keepsake of the Gold Coast lifestyle.
Also in attendance today was GOLDOC CEO Mark Peters, Minister for Education and Minister for Tourism, Major Events and the Commonwealth Games Kate Jones MP, Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Graham Quirk, Australian sprint sensation Riley Day and a large contingent of excited junior athletes.
Cathy Freeman OAM:
“The Commonwealth Games provided special moments for me as an athlete and to be involved in GC2018 as an ambassador at this time is exciting. With less than one year until the Games start both athletes and spectators are getting excited.
“I know the excitement and pressures of competing in an Olympic Games on home soil. It was an amazing period in my life and Sydney 2000 was a special moment for sport in Australia and I can only imagine the Gold Coast will provide the similar experience for the current group of Australian athletes.
“I’m excited to join such a special group of athletes as a GC2018 Ambassador and spread the word about the Games. Australia has a long history of delivering successful major sporting events and the Gold Coast won’t be any different.”
GOLDOC Chairman Peter Beattie AC:
“Cathy holds a special place in all Australian hearts; she embodies the Commonwealth spirit and is a welcome addition to the GC2018 family.
“We have a great group of ambassadors spreading the GC2018 message to fellow athletes and fans. To have another of Australia’s greatest sporting heroes on board GC2018 is a glowing endorsement for the work being done to deliver a great Games.
“The appointment of Cathy as a GC2018 Ambassador comes at an important time for the Games as we approach the end of the ticket request phase next Monday 22 May. I encourage fans all over Australia to request tickets for the best chance to secure their place at the biggest event Australia will see this decade.”
Premier of Queensland the Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk MP:
“Cathy Freeman was an Australian icon and an ideal ambassador for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
“Born and raised in Queensland, Cathy has a strong connection with our state and the Commonwealth Games,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“We are absolutely thrilled Cathy has joined us on the GC2018 journey as an official ambassador to promote the Games to the world.
“Cathy became a household name around the world after her historic 400m gold medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
“Seventeen years later, it’s still regarded as one of Australia’s most significant sporting achievements.
“Like all Australians, I truly admired watching Cathy as an athlete and I also admire the work and achievements of her foundation with Indigenous youth.”
Minister for Education and Minister for Tourism, Major Events and the Commonwealth Games Kate Jones MP:
Cathy Freeman had joined Sally Pearson OAM, Cameron McEvoy, Anna Meares OAM, Laura Geitz and Kurt Fearnley OAM as the latest member of the GC2018 Ambassador family.
“We are thrilled Cathy has signed on to be the sixth member of this special group of high-profile GC2018 Ambassadors.
“Cathy is an Olympic and Commonwealth Games gold medallist who has lived and breathed international competition and knows what it takes to compete at the highest level.
“Along with the other ambassadors, Cathy will play a very special role in promoting the Games to the world.
“With just 320 days until the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, now is the time for all of us to get excited and plan our own Games experiences.
“Time is running out for all of us to register our interest for tickets, so don’t miss out.
“Before midnight on Monday 22 May, we all need to work out which GC2018 events we’d like to see and jump online to request tickets.”
City of Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate:
“I was in Sydney in 2000 when Cathy made history and gave the world such a memorable sporting moment. What a great choice and I can’t wait to see our city host a fun, and friendly, Games experience.”
GOLDOC CEO Mark Peters:
“If there is one Australian who resonates with the general public, it’s Cathy and it is a real privilege to have her supporting GC2018.
“The team is really excited to have Cathy join the current group of ambassadors who have played a key role in major milestone events, such as Anna Meares and Kurt Fearnley at the launch of the Queen’s Baton Relay at Buckingham Palace in March.
“As we get closer to the Games Cathy will play an important role helping tell the GC2018 story and encouraging all Australians to be a part of this history making event on the Gold Coast.”
Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA) CEO Craig Phillips:
“Cathy has a proud Commonwealth Games history and it’s only fitting she is involved with GC2018.
“The Commonwealth Games marked her arrival on the international sporting stage in 1994 and was the launch pad for one of Australia’s greatest sporting stories.
“More than anyone, Cathy understands the unique opportunity of being able to compete at a home games, in front of a home crowd.
“Cathy’s legacy is alive and well continues to inspire the next generation of athletes.”
David Grevemberg CBE, Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth Games Federation said:
“Cathy’s achievements are an inspiration to the Commonwealth Sports Movement, and we’ve no doubt her support and involvement will have a profound and powerful impact on the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
“The Games are about people and communities – not just 11 days of thrilling action – and to support this vision there’s no better ambassador and role model than Cathy Freeman, having built on her spectacular sporting success to help Indigenous children and their families to recognise the power of education.”
Cathy Freeman Bio
- Date of Birth – 16 February 1973
• Age: 44
• Lives: Melbourne
• Born: Slade Point, Mackay, Queensland
• Sport: Athletics – 200m and 400m
Recognition and awards
- Sydney 2000 Olympic Games – 400m – Gold
• Seville 1999 World Championships – 400m – Gold
• Athens 1997 World Championships – 400m – Gold
• Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games – 400m – Silver
• Victoria 1994 Commonwealth Games – 400m – Gold
• Victoria 1994 Commonwealth Games – 200m – Gold
• Auckland 1990 Commonwealth Games – 4x100m – Gold
- 400m – 48.63sec – Atlanta (USA) – 29 July 1996
• 200m – 22.25sec (+1.3) – Victoria (CAN) – 26 August 1994
• 100m – 11.24sec (+1.1) – Brisbane (AUS) – 5 February 1994
- Member of the IOC Sport and Active Society Commission (2016)
• Co-Founder and Director, Cathy Freeman Foundation (2007 – present)
• In July 2003 officially announced her retirement
• First Australian Indigenous female to become a Commonwealth Games gold medallist, at age 16 in 1990
• On her right arm has the words “Cos I’m Free” tattooed midway between her shoulder and elbow.
• Lit the Olympic Cauldron at Sydney 2000
• Awarded Australian of the Year in 1998