- Freeman becomes first New South Wales woman to bear her name
- Was selected via a public nomination process
- Was revealed the day she lit the Olympic flame in Sydney
A major grandstand will be renamed in honor of Cathy Freeman at the stadium where she lit the 2000 Olympic flame and later won gold in one of the country’s greatest sporting moments.
The New South Wales Government announced on Friday that the East Stand at Accor Stadium in Sydney Olympic Park will officially be called the Cathy Freeman Stand.
It followed a public nomination process in which people were asked to nominate a sporting heroine whose name could be placed on the stand.
On this same date 23 years ago, Freeman lit the flame during the opening ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics at the stadium.
Ten days later, she won the women’s 400m final there, completing a victory lap by waving the Australian and Aboriginal flags in front of a crowd of more than 110,000 supporters.
Cathy Freeman reacts to the announcement that the East Stand at Sydney Olympic Park’s Accor Stadium will be named after her
Freeman, who walked on crutches, unveiled a plaque in his honor
The retired athlete was flanked by NSW Premier Chris Minns (left) and IOC Vice-President John Coates (right).
Freeman carried the Australian and Aboriginal flags on his victory lap after winning the 400m sprint 23 years ago.
It was the most-watched television event in the country’s history before being supplanted by the Matildas’ World Cup semi-final against England at the same stadium last month.
Freeman said she was “deeply humbled and humbled” to be permanently recognized in a stadium that held a special place in her heart.
“I hope my story continues to inspire generations of girls and boys to pursue their own dreams in sport and in life,” she said.
Freeman was honored the same day she lit the Olympic flame at Sydney Stadium for the start of the 2000 Olympics.
Freeman captured the hearts of a nation in thrilling 400m final
Premier Chris Minns said it was time a NSW grandstand was named after a woman and he couldn’t think of a better candidate than the Indigenous sports star.
“Everyone remembers where they were when Cathy Freeman produced her historic 400m run to win gold for Australia at the Sydney Olympics,” he said.
“I want the next generation of young girls to watch sports in this stadium, look at the Cathy Freeman stand and think about their own sporting dreams.”
The announcement was well received by the Australian public, with many wondering why it was not honored sooner.
‘About time. She has been an Australian legend for over 20 years. It’s time it was recognized as such,” one posted.
“Great decision. She was a household name throughout the 1990s,” another replied.
“This should have been done years ago. An incredible moment that no one will ever forget. I wish I was there to witness it live,” posted another.
This is Freeman’s second award this year, after she was also shortlisted for the Wilderness Society’s Karajia Prize for her children’s book The Heartbeat of the Land.