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Monday, 25 September, 2000, 10:00 GMT 11:00 UK
Glory for Freeman - and medal for Merry
Cathy Freeman takes Gold
Cathy Freeman takes Gold
Cathy Freeman fulfilled her role as heroine of the new Australia with a brilliant run to take gold in the women's 400m.

Screamed on by a capacity crowd, Freeman came off the top bend marginally behind Lorraine Graham but came storming down the home straight to take Australia's 100th gold medal in Olympic history in 49.11secs.

And there was joy for Great Britain as Katharine Merry took a superb bronze behind Freeman and Graham in a personal best of 49.72secs.

She was followed home by Donna Fraser, who with 49.79secs smashed her previous mark too.


I can't quite understand what has happened to me of late. It's overaweing, overwhelming
  Cathy Freeman
But it was Freeman's night - and this may now be Freeman's Games.

The athletics superstar became the first Aborigine to win Olympic gold in athletics and in the process achieved what looks bound to become the defining moment of Sydney 2000.

Space-age

The woman who lit the Olympic flame at the opening ceremony, and who came to represent Australia's hopes, appeared in a space-age swift-suit - and her performance was out of this world.

The pressure on her had been so intense in the lead-up to the Games that she spent the summer months training in England.

But on the night that mattered the world champion delivered.

"Right now it's just a relief," she said after completing being wildly cheered round her lap of honour.

Overwhelming

"I can't quite understand what has happened to me of late. It's overaweing, overwhelming. I feel like an outsider looking in at it all."

Cathy Freeman
Cathy Freeman
Freeman was quick to acknowledge the help of the crowd in the Olympic Stadium.

"It definitely lifted me," she said. "When I heard that huge roar on the home straight I knew it meant, 'Freeman come on!'"

Merry could barely conceal her delight at her run. In the last month she suffered a stomach upset which threatened to ruin her chances, but in only her second season at the event she has made her mark on the world stage.

"I'm going to cry like a baby, and I can't wait!" she said.

"It's what I've been dreaming of for the last few years - and I've done this for Linford," she said, paying tribute to her under-fire coach.

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Queen Cathy
Is Freeman the star of the 2000 Olympics?
See also:

25 Sep 00 |  Athletics-Track
Cathy comes home
24 Jul 00 |  Athletics
An Australian Freeman of London
15 Sep 00 |  Olympics2000
Dream symbol for a new Australia
25 Sep 00 |  Photo Gallery
Women's 400m final - in pictures
24 Sep 00 |  Athletics-Track
Brits follow Freeman into final
25 Sep 00 |  Athletics-Track
Australia salutes its favourite daughter
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