Legendary Australian sprinter Cathy Freeman OAM became the sixth official Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Ambassador in Brisbane today.
The announcement was made by Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation Chairman, Peter Beattie AC and Premier of Queensland, the Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk MP at a public event in the Queensland capital.
Speaking with rising sprint star Riley Day at the media event, Freeman was excited to be a public face for the Games after an extended period in the background of Australian athletics.
“The Commonwealth Games provided special moments for me as an athlete and to be involved in GC2018 as an ambassador at this time is exciting," Freeman said.
“I know the excitement and pressures of competing in an Olympic Games on home soil. It was an amazing period in my life and Sydney 2000 was a special moment for sport in Australia and I can only imagine the Gold Coast will provide the similar experience for the current group of Australian athletes," she added.
Freeman became a global household name after her historic 400m gold medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games which 17 years on is still regarded as one of Australia’s most significant sporting achievements and an iconic Olympic moment.
The first female Aboriginal athlete to win gold at a Commonwealth Games, at Auckland 1990 at age 16, Freeman announced herself as one of the world’s best in 1994 when she won gold in both the 200m and 400m at the Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada.
She retired from international competition in 2003 and founded the Cathy Freeman Foundation in 2007 to help broaden horizons and inspire Indigenous students to experience their full potential in school. Freeman has also played a mentor role for some of Australia’s best athletes, including 400m champion Morgan Mitchell.
The Olympic and Commonwealth Games gold medallist joins Sally Pearson OAM, Cameron McEvoy, Anna Meares OAM, Laura Geitz and Kurt Fearnley OAM as a welcome member of the GC2018 Ambassador family.
Commonwealth Games Australia CEO Craig Phillips was delighted with the appointment of Freeman as an ambassador.
“Cathy has a proud Commonwealth Games history and it’s only fitting she is involved with GC2018," Phillips said.
“The Commonwealth Games marked her arrival on the international sporting stage in 1994 and was the launch pad for one of Australia’s greatest sporting stories. More than anyone, Cathy understands the unique opportunity of being able to compete at a home games, in front of a home crowd."
Freeman is the sixth of a select group of high-profile figures who will assist GOLDOC with the promotion of the 4-15 April 2018 Games to Australia and the rest of the world.
To mark the occasion, Freeman was presented with a commemorative surfboard – an iconic keepsake of the Gold Coast lifestyle.
GOLDOC Chairman Peter Beattie was delighted to welcome one of Australia's greatest ever sportspeople to represent the Games.
“Cathy holds a special place in all Australian hearts; she embodies the Commonwealth spirit and is a welcome addition to the GC2018 family.
“The appointment of Cathy as a GC2018 Ambassador comes at an important time for the Games as we approach the end of the ticket request phase next Monday 22 May. I encourage fans all over Australia to request tickets for the best chance to secure their place at the biggest event Australia will see this decade.”
Ticket requests for GC2018 close midnight Monday 22 May and can be found here.