- Freeman becomes the first woman in NSW to have stand named after her
- Was selected through a public nomination process
- Has been unveiled on the day she lit the Olympic flame in Sydney
A major grandstand will be renamed in honour of Cathy Freeman at the stadium where she lit the 2000 Olympic flame and later claimed gold in one of the nation’s greatest sporting moments.
The NSW government on Friday announced the eastern grandstand at Accor Stadium in Sydney Olympic Park would be officially called the Cathy Freeman Stand.
It followed a public nomination process in which people were asked to name a female sporting hero whose name could be attached to the stand.
On the same date 23 years ago, Freeman lit the flame at the 2000 Sydney Olympics opening ceremony at the stadium.
Ten days later, she won the women’s 400m final at the venue, famously completing a victory lap holding both the Australian and Aboriginal flags in front of a crowd of more than 110,000 supporters.
Cathy Freeman reacts to the news that the eastern grandstand at Accor Stadium in Sydney Olympic Park will be named after her
Freeman, who was walking with the aid of crutches, unveiled a plaque in her honour
The retired athlete was flanked by NSW Premier Chris Minns (left) and and IOC Vice President John Coates (right)
Freeman famously carried both the Australian and Aboriginal flags in her victory lap after winning the 400m sprint 23 years ago
It was the most-watched TV event in the country’s history before it was supplanted by the Matildas’ World Cup semi-final showdown with England at the same stadium last month.
Freeman said she was ‘deeply honoured and humbled’ to be permanently recognised at a stadium that held a special place in her heart.
‘I hope that my story continues to inspire generations of girls and boys to chase their own dreams in sport and life,’ she said.
Freeman was honoured on the same day she lit the Olympic flame at the Sydney Stadium to commence the 2000 Olympics
Freeman captured the hearts of a nation in the thrilling 400m final
Premier Chris Minns said it was about time a NSW grandstand was named after a woman and he could not think of a better candidate than the Indigenous sporting star.
‘Everybody remembers where they were when Cathy Freeman produced her historic 400m race to win gold for Australia at the Sydney Olympics,’ he said.
‘I want the next generation of young girls to watch sport at this stadium, looking up at the Cathy Freeman Stand, thinking about their own sporting dreams.’
The announcement has been well received by the Australian public, with many questioning why she hadn’t been honoured sooner.
‘About time. She has been an Aussie legend for over 20 years. About time for her to be recognised as such,’ one posted.
‘Great decision. She was a household name right throughout the 1990’s,’ replied another.
‘Should’ve been done years ago. An incredible moment no one will ever forget. Wish I was there to witness it live,’ posted yet another.
It is the second award for Freeman this year after she was also shortlisted for the Wilderness Society Karajia Award for her children’s book The Heartbeat of the Land.