Where is Australia’s most beloved Olympian Cathy Freeman now? Inside the athlete’s private life 18 years after she retired from the track
Olympian Cathy Freeman has kept a relatively low profile since retiring in 2003.
The 48-year-old former sprinter made a name for herself in 1994 after winning two gold medals at the Commonwealth Games.
In 1997, she placed first at the World Championships in the 400m event, and three years later Cathy lit the torch in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.
After calling time on her athletics career, she founded the Cathy Freeman Foundation, an organisation that supports Indigenous students.
Where is Australia’s most beloved Olympian Cathy Freeman now? Inside the athlete’s private life, 18 years after she retired from the track. Pictured here in January 2020 in Melbourne
She was also an ambassador for the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation until 2012.
In 2014, Cathy stepped down from her position as an ambassador for Cottage by the Sea, a children’s holiday camp in Victoria.
In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald in 2003, Cathy said her decision to quit sprinting came when she realised she would never beat her performance at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Career: The former sprinter, 48, made a name for herself in 1994 after winning two gold medals at the Commonwealth Games, but it was at the Sydney Olympics she became an icon
During the 2000 games, Cathy was selected to light the Olympic flame at the opening ceremony, later winning gold for her 400m sprint.
‘I won’t ever have the same fulfilling moment as I already have had,’ she explained.
‘I don’t have the same hunger. I know what it takes to be a champion, to be the best in the world, and I just don’t have that feeling right now.’
Iconic moment: In 1997, she came first at the World Championships in the 400m event, and three years later Cathy lit the torch at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney
Her career began at age 16, when she won gold as part of the 4 x 100 m relay team at the Auckland Commonwealth Games.
The win made her one of the competition’s youngest competitors and the first Indigenous Australian to win gold at the Commonwealth Games.
Cathy went on to score three more gold medals at subsequent Commonwealth Games, as well as a silver medal at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics.
Out of the spotlight: After retiring from her sprinting career, she founded the Cathy Freeman Foundation, an organisation that supports Indigenous students
During her time in the spotlight Cathy also made headlines for her love life.
She was in a long-term relationship with her athletics roach Nic Bideau, who helped coach her to gold at the 2000 Olympics after their relationship ended.
Cathy was married to her first husband, Alexander ‘Sandy’ Bodecker, from 1999 to in 2003.
She went on to date actor Joel Edgerton before they split in 2005, and married her second husband, James Murch, in 2009.
They welcomed a daughter, Ruby, in 2011.
Loved-up: Cathy married her second husband, James Murch, in 2009 and the pair welcomed a daughter, Ruby, two years later. Pictured here in April 2007
Why Cathy Freeman’s run at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games is one of Australia’s best-ever sporting performances
By Charlie Moore
Talisman: Freeman lights the Olympic cauldron at the 2000 opening ceremony
The image of Cathy Freeman dashing around the track in her green full-body suit to claim 400m gold is etched in Australian national memory.
Under severe pressure as the nation’s talisman and most popular athlete, and after lighting the Olympic cauldron at the Sydney 2000 opening ceremony, Freeman showed no sign of nerves when she left her rivals in her dust after an explosive final bend.
The 27-year-old, who was the first Australian Indigenous person to become a Commonwealth Games gold medallist aged 16 in 1990, comfortably raced away from Jamaica’s Lorraine Graham (silver) and Great Britain’s Katharine Merry (bronze).
After crossing the line to a thunderous applause, she sat on the track with head in hands, disappointed then she hadn’t run faster.
She said afterwards: ‘One thing that burns away at me is I know I could have run faster than what I actually have, but that’s fine.’
‘I actually crossed the line, looked across at the time – 49.11seconds – and was immediately disappointed because I would have loved to have run 48.
Determined: After crossing the line to a thunderous applause, Freeman sat on the track with head in hands, disappointed then she hadn’t run faster
‘I just remember leaning over, putting my hands around my knees and just shaking my head.’
Freeman’s comments captured her humility and determination.
Her run goes down as one of the greatest Olympic performances in Australia’s history.