Ms Catherine Freeman OAM
It is tough to pinpoint what made CATHERINE FREEMAN a legend. Was it her 400m triumph in Sydney? Could it have been her surprise selection as the first competing athlete to light the flame at those same Games? Or was it her breakthrough world championships success in 1997 and title defence two years later?
In truth, it was all of those things and a few indefinable qualities that made her great. The standout was, of course, her Olympic gold.
A nation of expectant Australians held their breath as she crouched in the starting blocks, then roared when she turned into the home straight with none of her rivals in the reckoning. For many, it was the defining moment of the Sydney Games.
Born in Mackay and schooled at Kooralbyn, Freeman made winning a habit, whether it was at Olympics, world titles or Commonwealth Games.
She retired from competitive running in 2003 but not from public life, and for someone so tiny, her legacy was huge.
She has become a mentor to new hurdles world champion Sally Pearson and continues to search for the next generation of sporting stars while her project, the Cathy Freeman Foundation, creates pathways to a brighter future for indigenous children.