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Wednesday, 31 July, 2002, 20:55 GMT 21:55 UK

Golden return for Freeman

Olympic 400m champion Cathy Freeman claimed an "unexpected" gold medal after helping Australia win the women's 4x400m title.

Freeman only agreed to compete after husband Sandy Bodecker, who was diagnosed two months ago with inoperable throat cancer, persuaded her to go.

"Now I'm going to go back to my home and think about a third world title"
Cathy Freeman

"This was a dream medal," said 29-year-old. "It's a bonus. Everything has gone so well.

"I did not come to these Games with any hopes of a medal. I was more concerned with my own level of fitness.

"There have been a lot of my rumours that I was not fit. I'm only human but I've shown my face back on the international stage.

"Now I'm going to go back to my home and think about a third world title."

Freeman teamed up with Lauren Hewitt, Tamsyn Lewis and 400 hurdles champion Jana Pittman to beat England into second place.

The English quartet of Helen Frost, Helen Karagounis, Melanie Purkiss and Lisa Miller were just over a second behind, with Nigeria taking the bronze.

World champions Jamaica were favourites for the race but dropped the baton.

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