FREEMAN Cathy (1974) Australia / Track and field
Everyone expected to see Cathy Freeman wrapped in the Aborigine flag after winning the 400 metres, we will remember the image of a beautiful young woman in her white costume after having lit the Olympic bowl in Sydney's Olympic Stadium.The athlete had played along well and gave no indication that she had been chosen for the Olympic ritual. In fact, the world was captivated by this petite, 1.64m-tall woman in the centre of the circle of fire which seemed to rise up into the sky. In a matter of minutes, she had reconciled her Aborigine community with the governing whites, bringing it universal recognition.But Cathy Freemen is also a brilliant athlete. She finished second to Marie José Pérec in the 400 metres at the Atlanta Games, but had no difficulty winning in Sydney in 2000 in front of her home crowd. Her French rival had chosen to miss the encounter and disappeared two days before the event.As the double world champion in the 400 metres (in 1997 and 1999), the Australian had already demonstrated her potential.For outstanding service to the Olympic cause and her contribution to the development of sport, Cathy Freeman awarded the Olympic Order.