Catherine (Cathy) Astrid Salome Freeman was born on 16th February in Mackay, Queensland. Catherine is Greek for ‘pure’, Astrid, German for ‘star’ and Salome is Hebrew for ‘Peace’.
Cathy's dad's name is Norman Freeman and her mum's name is Cecilia. She also has a step dad, Bruce Barber. She has five siblings: brothers, Gavin,Garth and Norman and a sister, Ann-Marie, who, sadly, died at young age. Cathy's memories of her early childhood were ones of having a lot of fun running around and playing with her brothers and sisters and her friends. From an early age she realised that she not only loved to run, but that she was good at it.
Cathy is probably best known as a champion athlete. She won her first gold medal at a school athletics championship when she was eight years old. Catherine Freeman's stepfather, Bruce Barber, coached her until 1989. Catherine Freeman's family did not have a lot of money and, like many Australian Aboriginals, suffered discrimination from white Australians. Catherine remembers winning one race at a primary school competition, when she had to watch on as the white girls she had beaten received trophies.
It was when she was just a young girl that she began to dream about being the World’s greatest female athlete and being Olympic Champion. A dream that kept her focused on her training and helped her to go on to achieve her dream.
In 1987 Catherine won a scholarship to Fairholme School but moved on to Kooralbyn International School to be coached professionally by Mike Danila. She moved to Melbourne in 1990 after winning a gold medal in the 4x100m relay at the Auckland Commonwealth Games.
1990 Commonwealth Games, Auckland, New Zealand - Gold 4 x 100 metres relay team. With this medal win, she became the first female Australian Aboriginal to win a gold medal at an international athletics event.
1991 awarded Young Australian of the Year
1992 Olympic Games Barcelona, Spain - Cathy Freeman become the first Australian Aboriginal to represent Australia at an Olympics
1994 Commonwealth Games, Victoria, Canada – Gold in the 200m and 400m.
1996 Olympics Games Atlanta, USA – silver medal and personal best 48.63 seconds.
1997 World Athletic Championships, Athens, Greece – gold 400m.
1998 awarded Australian of the Year
1999 World Athletic Championships Seville, Spain – Gold 400m.
In 2000 her image was beamed into millions of homes around the world when she became the first competing athlete to be invited to light the Olympic flame at the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games. She then went on to win the gold medal in the 400m - her dream had come true.
On 15 July 2003 Catherine Freeman announced her retirement from competitive running.
She now concentrates her time on making a difference to others through the Catherine Freeman Foundation (www.catherinefreemanfoundation.com) and she is involved in important causes, particularly Aboriginal issues.