Catherine memories of her early childhood were ones of having a lot of fun running around and playing with her siblings and friends. From an early age she realised that she not only loved to run, but that she was good at it.
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.
She went on to gain international success:
1990 Commonwealth Games, Auckland, New Zealand – Gold 4 × 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
Describe yourself in 3 words: PASSIONATE, PATIENT AND DETERMINED.
What is your life motto?
IT IS OUR DOUBTS OF TODAY THAT LIMIT OUR REALIZATIONS OF TOMORROW.
When did you start pursuing your career and how long did it take to become successful?
I WAS 10 YEARS OF AGE WHEN I DECIDED THAT RUNNING WAS MY CAREER AND IT TOOK 17 YEARS TO REACH THE PINNACLE IN WORLD ATHLETICS THAT IS AN OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL. HOWEVER IT WASN’T UNTIL 2006 THAT I DECIDED I WANTED TO START THE CATHERINE FREEMAN FOUNDATION SO WE’RE NOW IN OUR 5TH YEAR ONLY.
How many hours did you dedicate to pursuing your dream?
WITH MY RUNNING CAREER I DEDICATED 17 YEARS WORTH OF HOURS TO IT, AND WITH THE CATHERINE FREEMAN FOUNDATION THIS IS A PASSION THAT IS ALMOST ALWAYS AT THE TOP OF MY HEART AND MIND. THE CATHERINE FREEMAN FOUNDATION IS PRIORITY NUMBER 2 IN MY LIFE BEHIND MY FAMILY.
Describe how difficult the business really is?
ATHLETICS IS THE MOST COMPETITIVE SPORT; SO THE SHORT ANSWER IS THAT IT’S AN INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT BUSINESS, HOWEVER, IF YOU LOVE WHAT YOU DO, THEN IT’S NOT DIFFICULT AT ALL. IT IS COMPETITIVE IN THE NON FOR PROFIT SECTOR HOWEVER; I ONLY SEE POTENTIAL PARTNERSHIPS AND COLLABORATIONS THAN CAN ENABLE A LEGACY OF TREMENDOUS CHANGE FOR THE FUTURE.
What is the mistake that taught you an extremely valuable lesson?
LOSING RACES IS VITAL BECAUSE IT’S ONLY THEN THAT YOU TRULY COMMENCE TO DEMONSTRATE PATIENCE, SELF-BELIEF, PERSISTENCE AND STRONGER SELF-DETERMINATION. THERE ARE SETBACKS IN PHILANTHROPY HOWEVER I HAVE INDEED LEARNT DOG HEADED PERSISTENCE BUT ONLY WHEN I HAVE FELT DEFEATED.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given to date?
WAITING AT EVERYBODY’S FRONT DOOR IS A BEAR! BASICALLY, THE WORLD OVER FACES REALLY TOUGH AND CHALLENGING TIMES SO NO ONE SHOULD EVER FEEL ALONE IN THAT REGARD.
What is the piece of advice that you weren’t?
THAT EVEN I AM TWO-FACED!
In your mind, is formal training essential?
YES, I BELIEVE THAT FORMAL TRAINING IS ESSENTIAL BUT ONLY IF IT’S FUSED WITH PERSONAL INSIGHT, EXPERIENCE, INSTINCT, INTUITION, COMMON SENSE, AND COMMUNICATION WITH TEAM MATES.
What are some steps emerging talent can take to start/further their career?
I RECOMMEND THE FORMULA THAT IS DREAMING+PLANNING+MENTORING/COACHING=PERSONAL SUCCESS.
What kept you going when you felt like giving up?
THE MEMORIES OF MY ANCESTORS INCLUDING MY LATE SISTER WHO IS MY GREATEST INSPIRATION.
Do you believe that ‘making it’ is about luck and being in the right place at the right time?
I BELIEVE THAT ‘MAKING IT’ IS REALLY ABOUT SELF-AWARENESS, SELF-ACCEPTANCE, SELF-FORGIVENESS AND SELF-LOVE. SO IN MY BOOK, WE CALL CAN ALL MAKE IT BECAUSE AS LONG AS YOU’RE LIVING THEN YOU ARE ALWAYS IN THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME! A VERY BROAD INSIGHT I KNOW, BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY, IF YOU DON’T LOVE WHO YOU ARE, THEN YOUR JOURNEY TAKES ON A DIFFERENT MEANING.
She now concentrates her time on making a difference to others through the Catherine Freeman Foundation –www.catherinefreemanfoundation.com