Living Black: Oct 20

2014-10-20_1134Cathy Freeman talks to Living Black’s Karla Grant today about how her 400 metre win at the 2000 Sydney Olympics changed her life, on SBS ONE.

She also discusses insights about how she felt growing up, her family, motherhood and her current goal to close the education gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children through the Cathy Freeman Foundation.

Cathy on racism:
“But I remember even before Sydney 2000 receiving a racist letter from a certain part of the country of Australia. I remember having a conversation to a girlfriend at the time and I was really hurt you know. She laughed, she’s blonde with green eyes – we’re very different in the way we look, and she just laughed because she couldn’t believe that there were such attitudes out there still in existence. It kind of helped me gain a bit more perspective you know. You only have to read the newspapers and watch TV, the latest news, to know that there’s a lot of discrimination that still occurs. It’s just the way the world is unfortunately.”

Cathy on trying to escape from life in the spotlight on her retirement from running:
“I tried! I seriously wanted to go overseas and waitress in Central America or South America, and or join the circus. I had experience playing a big fat red kangaroo in Circus Oz and I wanted to join the circus because I wanted to just have fun.”

Cathy on her road to Olympic glory:
“I have a God-given raw talent for running that it kind of just took on a life of its own. I remember my very first foot race as a five year old, I won it and, and I loved it, I loved running I mean, and I found real joy in this running thing and I felt so happy, it propelled me into environments where I found support whether it was in the form of not …Um You know of once since I left home, it started with my parents, it started with my coaches, and teachers, and it was almost like a wave that carried me all the way through to Sydney 2000 and because I was 10 years old and I kind of self-affirmed myself as one of the “world’s greatest athletes.”

How she coped with the pressure and expectations to that 400m race at the Sydney 2000 Olympics:
“I don’t think people realize that it’s actually the effort themselves; they put themselves under incredible pressure, compared to pressure from anyone else including my mother, its incomparable because there was no other option but to win, so the pressure coming from the media or the country was kind of absolutely piled into insignificance compared to what I was expecting myself. So ten years lead up to this one moment, not much could have happened to set me off my course of destiny … one way to put it.”

Cathy on winning the 400m Sydney Olympic final:
“The Sydney Olympic final was no different except it was the Sydney Olympic Games 2000, so as soon as I started running, I was at home, it was my place of serenity, it always has been and I think that’s how I coped with the pressure Karla, and I remember when I crossed the finished line, I remember distinctly a thought coming into my mind, of ‘this is what it feels like to be an Olympic Champion’.”

Cathy on retirement from running:
“It came as a shock, which is without question because I never ever thought to consider life after running. I just assumed I would keep running, and running, and running. I guess after experiencing my childhood dream and not only that, there was also the wonderful experience of lighting the cauldron and the home advantage through the home Olympics. I think subconsciously I didn’t think there was going to be another experience that could ever possibly equal that, and part of me was always going to be looking for the next moment that would surpass that moment of the Sydney 2000 Olympics.”

Cathy on motherhood:
“I think I’m more interested in the world than ever. I remember having a conversation with one of the world’s greatest athletes, Michael Johnson who has a boy, Sebastian and he must be 10 years of age. He said becoming a father . . . was like putting reality under a microscope where I react to world news, half way around the world and what happens in our own backyard. I’m more aware. It’s almost like I’ve become a little bit alert to some of the ongoing issues of the world today. Ultimately the future of my child has become a bigger concern for me more than ever.

Cathy talking about her mother and why she set up her Foundation:
“Well I guess it started a long time ago, my mother always told me never forget where you came from, never forget it is who you belong to and I guess that’s always stuck with me. I love my mother, I respect her, she’s one of my greatest teachers in my life, she’s my mentor, she’s almost my everything, she helps me shape me as a woman as a mother, as a friend as a daughter as a partner and I guess she always made me realise that I will always be a part of Palm Island, where she was born, I’ll always be a part of Woorabinda where my father was born, the Kuku Yalanji people in far north Queensland that where I belong to. My father was of the Birri-Guba people of central Queensland, you are a proud indigenous woman, bottom line. So when I realised I wasn’t going anywhere I was staying in Australia you know being in love with this Melbourne, it just made sense to me to make good use of my story, of my name and of my profile and I wanted to always, in fact I’ve always wanted to be close and connected to my people and this is a tangible way in which I can do so. And for the things I’ve learned for my own human potential I want other people (especially Indigenous people of Australia) to experience their own potential and their own greatness in their own years.”

Monday 20 October at 5pm on SBS ONE
Tuesday 21 October at 8pm on NITV

One Comment:

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.