Cathy Freeman’s race rival does a runner at the Sydney Olympics

This West Australian boxer looks promising…

It was a strong start for Daniel Green, the 27-year-old from WA, as he began his Olympic tournament with a first-round light heavyweight victory over Brazil’s Laudelino Barros at Darling Harbour.

He’s a big puncher. But I’ve got a chin of stone.

Daniel Green

It was a cakewalk, as well. Green dominated from the opening exchanges and the scores were 17-2 when the referee put an end to proceedings.

He’s got an aggressive style, does Green, and might be well suited to the pros when he makes the inevitable move. “He’s a big puncher,” Green said. “But I’ve got a chin of stone.”

Tough work for Ferris at the track cycling

Michelle Ferris has missed a medal in her favoured event, the sprint. Ferris lost the chance to ride-off for gold when beaten by arch-rival Felicia Ballanger, before losing the bronze medal race to Iryna Yanovych from the Ukraine.

The 23-year-old from Victoria was disappointed but put on a brave face. She already has a bronze medal in Sydney after the 500m time trial, with Ballanger taking the gold in that event before going on to win the sprint as well.

“I don’t know what it was,” Ferris said. “I had nothing in my legs today.”

In other results, Stuart O’Grady finished out of the placings in the points race.


Silver for Mark in dramatic finish to the shooting

Defending double-trap champion Russell Mark has won silver but it could so easily have been another Olympic gold after the Atlanta champion lost a shoot-off to Richard Faulds from Great Britain.

Mark had a three-shot lead with five braces of targets left in the competition, before missing targets on his 20th and 21st shot, then missing both the next time around, to allow Faulds back into the reckoning. They ended locked on 187 before Faulds had the better of the Australian in the shoot-off.

Mark said he may have been guilty of thinking he was almost over the line, given the size of his lead with just a handful of targets to go. But he tensed up as the wind rose, and the rest was history.

“Missing the pair was like someone winded me. I was just amazed,” Mark said. “And for the first time today, I had some negative thoughts.”

Mark may have not lived up to his own lofty expectations but he showed what a good bloke he was when sections of the crowd started cheering the misses of his rival Faulds. Mark told them to keep it down, something that did not go unnoticed by the Brit.

Simon Fairweather celebrates gold at the archery.Credit:Getty

Fairweather fans! Our archer has won gold!

Ice runs through the veins of South Australia’s Simon Fairweather, our latest Olympic hero who has won gold in the archery. It’s the first medal of any colour for Australia’s Olympic archers.

The 30-year-old was ruthless at Homebush. He won three straight to book a spot in the gold medal clash with Victor Wunderle and it was all over by the time the American had one arrow left to shoot.

“I’m speechless,” Fairweather said as he tried to digest it all in front of 4500 fans, who probably weren’t expecting an Australian gold when they put in their request for tickets. Now they had witnessed a moment they are unlikely to forget in a hurry.

Fairweather’s goal before the Games was to make the top eight. Instead, he swept aside all in his path to join the local gold rush in Sydney.

Opals shine despite sickness scare

Australia’s star guard Michelle Timms was out of action with a vomiting bug but that didn’t stop the Opals putting the cleaners through Slovakia at the basketball, with the host nation cruising to a 70-47 win on the back of 15 points from Lauren Jackson.

Timms was quarantined from the rest of the squad but those suiting up showed no ill-effects as they blew away the Slovaks, who quickly became frustrated and ended up shooting a dismal 29 per cent from the field. Gold medal favourites the USA were impressive in their 88-77 victory over a competitive Russian side.

The Hoogenband strikes up once again

Pieter van den Hoogenband’s golden Games continue to glisten even brighter. After victory in the 200m freestyle, the Dutch star has dethroned the great Alex Popov to win the 100m freestyle and end the Russian’s dream of a hat-trick of Olympic titles in the event. ‘Hoogie’ has become the giant-killer in Sydney, taking down Ian Thorpe in the 200m free and now Popov. The Russian took silver with the USA’s Gary Hall jnr in third. Michael Klim, who briefly had the world record for this race after his sizzling relay lead-off, missed the placings.

Madame Butterfly has her wings clipped in major upset!

Misty Hyman of the USA stunned Susie O'Neill to win gold, with Petria Thomas taking bronze.

Misty Hyman of the USA stunned Susie O’Neill to win gold, with Petria Thomas taking bronze.Credit:Nick Wilson/Allsport/Getty

Nobody would have seen this coming. Susie O’Neill, already a gold medal winner in Sydney in the 200m freestyle, looked as good a thing as there could be in her pet 200m butterfly, a race she has owned since before the Atlanta Games of 1996. Instead, it was American Misty Hyman who touched first in a result she could barely comprehend, let alone the pro-Australian crowd who expected a coronation for one of their favourites.

It was a brilliant swim and only O’Neill, who has not lost this race at a major meet for more than six years, has ever gone faster. The American won fair and square and was elated. “This moment is so sweet,” Hyman said. “This is a dream come true.”

O’Neill battled ferociously to take silver ahead of Dolphins teammate Petria Thomas, who walked away with bronze.

How the Herald reported Perec's dramatic exit from the Games.

How the Herald reported Perec’s dramatic exit from the Games.Credit:Sydney Morning Herald

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Coulthard wins dramatic Supercars race

Ford’s Fabian Coulthard has prevailed in the most dramatic Supercars race of 2020 as championship heavyweights Scott McLaughlin and Jamie Whincup stumbled after an early tussle.

Coulthard’s 13th-career victory came in eventful circumstances at Tailem Bend, with tensions boiling after multiple incidents at the South Australian track on Saturday.

“Forty-one races (since his last win) is a long time ago, and my 200th round start here as well, so to get a win is awesome,” the 38-year-old said.

Coulthard’s first victory since Perth last year was almost a side-note as the battle between his Shell V-Power teammate McLaughlin and Red Bull Holden’s Whincup, who are the only genuine contenders for this year’s title, flared up.

McLaughlin claimed an early lead in the first of three 24-lap races this weekend after flying past Holden’s Chaz Mostert, who started from pole.

But on turn-18 of the first-lap, McLaughlin spun into the sand after Whincup hit the side of his Mustang to leave the New Zealander flailing in 18th.

Whincup was immediately slapped with a 15-second penalty, but McLaughlin didn’t earn the wrath of the stewards, and instead made a gallant charge to close within reach of an improbable podium finish.

But McLaughlin earned the same time punishment as Whincup for a late-race clash with Lee Holdsworth that left the Tickford veteran off track.

McLaughlin shook hands with Whincup after the race and declared there were no hard feelings despite the incident.

“I pretty much knew he (Whincup) was probably going to be penalised after that so it was about me trying to maximise what I had,” McLaughlin said.

“I felt the move with Holdsworth was on, and I had a crack, and I wanted to try and jump on the podium with my teammate (Coulthard), but the stewards didn’t agree with it.

“The guy on the outside has to give you some space so it’s up to him (Holdsworth) as well and I don’t agree with (the penalty).”

Holdsworth was dismayed with the move from his fellow Ford driver that saw hopes of a podium finish end in 13th place.

“I think he (McLaughlin) is driving in desperation; I don’t know why he would because he’s got a championship nearly in the bag,” Holdsworth said.

The penalties pushed McLaughlin (15th) and Whincup (19th) to back of the field but the former still has a 151-point championship lead.


1. Fabian Coulthard (Ford)

2. Jack Le Brocq (Ford)

3. Bryce Fullwood (Holden)

4. Andre Heimgartner (Ford)

5. Cameron Waters (Ford)


1. Scott McLaughlin (Ford) 1874 pts

2. Jamie Whincup (Holden) 1723

3. Cameron Waters 1443

4. Chaz Mostert 1436

5. Shane van Gisbergen (Holden) 1413

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Three people in hospital as Victorian authorities race to contain Casey coronavirus outbreak

Victorian health authorities say they’re working quickly to contain the state’s largest coronavirus outbreak, outside of aged care, in Melbourne’s south-east, as three patients linked to the cluster are admitted to hospital.

The first positive test in the Casey cluster was recorded just over two weeks ago, on September 4, and it has since grown to 34 cases.

In a statement, Monash Health said it was caring for three patients in relation to the Casey community outbreak.

All were in a stable condition on Friday night, with one of the three patients testing positive for COVID-19 so far.

Victorian health authorities confirmed yesterday that the cluster was spread across five households in the suburbs of Hallam, Clyde, Narre Warren South and Cranbourne North, which are all within the City of Casey local government area.

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) said members of the five households had visited houses beyond the 5 kilometre radius permitted under metropolitan Melbourne’s stage 4 restrictions.

The chief executive of Monash Health, Andrew Stripp, said local community health care services were working closely with the DHHS and the Casey community to contain the “significant” cluster.

But he said the area’s infection prevention team and good local contacts were aiding a quick response to the outbreak.

“The community’s responding very well, the families themselves are isolating, so I think it’s travelling in the right direction,” Mr Stripp told ABC Radio Melbourne.

“Our community health services have been working with the local community very closely … and were able to respond and be on the ground and visit the houses and have what are sometimes difficult discussions, very personal discussions, in relation to the contact tracing process in a very successful way.”

Afghan community leader says CHO ‘singled out’ residents

A group of unidentifiable people walk in a park including two children on bikes.
The cluster is centred on the suburbs of Hallam, Clyde, Narre Warren South and Cranbourne North in City of Casey local government area.(ABC News)

Earlier this week, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton offered to speak to multicultural groups in the Casey area.

“Having been to Afghanistan a couple of times over the years, I want to be able to reflect on my cultural experiences and the fact I know that there are universal motivations that every family has: to do the right thing, to protect their families,” he said.

Some local community leaders have expressed concern the remarks singled out the Afghan community, and warned the comments may make some community members feel “ashamed”.

Afghan community leader, Homaira Mershedi, said her community had been unfairly “singled out” over the Casey outbreak.

She also said she was concerned about the future when restrictions eventually started to ease, saying she feared Afghan businesses could suffer and children from the community could be bullied at school.

A woman in a face mask standing in a garden.
Afghan community leader Homaira Mershedi says some community members won’t want to get tested.(ABC News: Sarah Jane Bell)

But Mr Stripp said Monash Health had been working with all community leaders to ensure they knew the risks posed by COVID-19 and he urged people even with only the mildest of symptoms to get tested.

“Our team have been working with this particular [Afghan] community closely … we’re aware that in some areas that people are concerned that if they go into a testing station they’re more at risk of being infected.

“That’s not the case … we provide a safe environment for people to be tested,” he said.

Focus on Fountain Gate Shopping Centre visits

More than 4,000 people have been tested in the Casey area in the past week, and 11 testing sites are open including drive-though clinics in Dandenong and Cranbourne as well as other testing sites in Clyde, Hallam and Noble Park.

Other community support workers, including Leanne Petrides from the Cranbourne Information and Support Service, said everyone across the municipality was working to get the message out to people to get tested.

“[We] keep pushing the message, particularly over the next couple of weeks as it’s going to be absolutely vital,” she said.

Ms Petrides declined to mention the Afghan community, instead stressing that all people from across the entire Casey community were doing their best to stop the spread of the virus.

“I wouldn’t want to pick out any one community,” she said.

“We’ve seen people from many different communities, including, dare I say, my own Australian community who have been going out there and breaking some of the guidelines and rules that the Chief Health Officer has put down for us.”

A woman in a face mask with a white tent behind her.
Leanne Petrides from the Cranbourne Information and Support Service says getting a test is quick and easy.(ABC News)

Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng said yesterday there was a focus on testing people who had visited the Fountain Gate Shopping Centre in Narre Warren.

“We think that most of the cases are linked to contact between these households but there have been visits to Fountain Gate,” he said.

Ms Petrides said while Fountain Gate was a large shopping complex, people needed to stay within their 5km radius and not go out in groups.

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Reigning Tour de France champion Egan Bernal pulls out of race ahead of 17th stage

Defending Tour de France champion Egan Bernal has withdrawn from the race just hours before a mammoth stage in the Alps.

Bernal had been struggling since Sunday’s stage in the Jura mountains, where he dropped more than seven minutes on the main contenders and slipped out of contention.

After Monday’s rest day, Bernal suffered again on Tuesday’s 16th stage to Villard-de-Lans.

Hampered by back pain and subsequently knee concerns, the 23-year-old indicated afterwards he hoped to continue out of respect for the race.

But on the morning of Wednesday’s queen stage to the Col de la Loze above Meribel, his team Ineos Grenadiers announced the Colombian was withdrawing from the race, although it did not specify the reason for the decision.

“This is obviously not how I wanted my Tour de France to end, but I agree that it is the right decision for me in the circumstances,” Bernal said.

Bernal was in 16th place overall, 19 minutes and four seconds behind race leader Primoz Roglic.

The decision comes five days short of the race’s concluding stage in Paris.

“We have taken this decision with Egan’s best interests at heart,” Ineos Grenadiers team principal Dave Brailsford said.

“Egan is a true champion who loves to race, but he is also a young rider, with many Tours ahead of him and at this point, on balance, we feel it is wiser for him to stop racing.”

Bernal had pulled out of the Criterium du Dauphine with back pains last month.

Bernal, at 22, was the youngest Tour de France winner since 1909 last year.(AP: Christophe Ena)

In 2019 he became the youngest rider to win the Tour de France in 110 years.

Stage 17, arguably the toughest of the race, features the Col de la Madeleine and the Col de la Loze, the Tour’s highest point this year at 2,304 metres.

The traffic-free pass between the ski resorts of Meribel and Courchevel was opened to cyclists this year after a forest track was paved by local authorities.

The last six kilometres of the climb are particularly difficult, with very steep sections and sharp turns.


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Supercars 2020: Scott McLaughlin IndyCar debut, Team Penske, star requires travel exemption to race in St. Petersburg, Florida

Scott McLaughlin appears set to make his IndyCar debut next month if he can secure a travel exemption from the Australian government.

Having completed a series of successful tests for Team Penske early in the year, McLaughlin’s initial 2020 IndyCar race plans were derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But with the Supercars season now confirmed to conclude at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 on October 18 – a week before the IndyCar season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida, that dream has been revived.

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Scott McLaughlin extends lead


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‘Disappointing’ start to Australia’s private space race as rocket misfires at Koonibba

“Disappointed” was the word of the day after Australia’s much-awaited first private rocket launch failed at an Aboriginal community on South Australia’s far west coast.

But space industry companies Southern Launch and DEWC are confident they will still see a launch by the end of this week.

A crowd of more than 200 at the Koonibba Aboriginal community was counting down until lift-off when Southern Launch chief executive Lloyd Damp announced there had been a misfire.

“We ignited the rocket motor but the rocket itself, the propellant, didn’t ignite,” Mr Damp said.

“This is one of the things we’ve been training for and practising for the last few days.

The control room for the Koonibba rocket launch.(ABC News: Stacey Lee)

“We’ll unpack the rocket, work out what went wrong, and we might be back as early as tomorrow to try again.


Koonibba Aboriginal School students who came to watch said they were disappointed.

“We just came out here for six and a half hours for no reason,” one boy said.

DEWC, whose slogan is “electronic warfare is our passion”, is developing satellites that will be capable of detecting potentially dangerous radar signals from enemy forces.

It was the first company to team up with Southern Launch to test launching processes.

Today, a small device was meant to be deployed at the edge of space.

The payload’s purpose was to collect information with its built-in sensors as it fell back to Earth to assist with DEWC’s development of satellite technology.

Children in front of an old school building
Koonibba Aboriginal School students were excited in the lead-up to the rocket launch.(ABC News: Evelyn Leckie)

‘Our mission will go ahead’

DEWC chief executive Ian Spencer said although the misfire was a little disappointing, he was glad it was “out of the way”.

“I don’t think it’s a real rocket launch activity unless we have at least one failure to launch,” Mr Spencer said.

“Our mission will go ahead and I’m sure we’ll get a launch out of it this week.”

People sit on chairs and the ground under a blue sky
A crowd turned up to watch the rocket launch but left disappointed.(ABC News: Evelyn Leckie)

Mr Spencer said DEWC was partway through designing satellites that would help the Australian Defence Force.

“We’re taking some of the information that we were going to learn this week to incorporate into some of our software,” he said.

“That’s on track and ahead of schedule. We expect to deliver that concept demonstrator next year.

“If we’re fortunate enough, we’ll be able to push that through in 18 months.

‘Next step’ in the space industry

Royal Australian Air Force Group Captain Tobyn Bearman said the air force was interested in supporting DEWC and Southern Launch in experimenting with the “next step” of sensors that were built into the rocket’s payload.

“These are next-generation sensors that we’re exploring — what they can provide in terms of information from the upper atmosphere and how we can use that information to improve our situational awareness on the battlefield,” Group Captain Bearman said.

A man wearing a jacket and baseball cap speaks to other men the same under a canopy
SA Premier Steven Marshall (left) speaks to DEWC chief executive Ian Spencer (second from right) at the Koonibba rocket launch site.(ABC News: Evelyn Leckie)

SA Premier Steven Marshall put a positive spin on today’s event.

“With innovation like this, there are often lots of steps which are taken. There will be another attempt for a launch again,” he said.

“This will be the first commercial space company rocket launch in Australia ever.

“All of the previous launches have been government launches, so it is a historic time and I think this is really a taste of what’s to come in Australia.”

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Lawmakers race to pass gov’t spending, stimulus, and more ahead of November election

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., walks to her office, Monday, Sept. 14, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

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UPDATED 12:08 PM PT – Monday, September 14, 2020

With the November election looming just two months ahead, Congress is racing to push forward major legislation.

While the Senate reconvened last week, the House reconvened for the first time since their month-long August recess on Monday. This is the last work period left before the election with just 12 working days scheduled.

First on the agenda is avoiding a government shutdown. Both chambers face a September 30 deadline to pass a stopgap government funding bill. They are expected to use a continuing resolution in order to continue funding at the 2020 fiscal year levels.

Democrats and Republicans have agreed not to include any controversial aspects in the legislation to avoid a stalemate and ensuing shutdown. Therefore, leaders of both chambers have decided not to include the next coronavirus relief bill in the spending legislation.

The fifth stimulus package has proven extremely difficult to reach a deal on as Congress and the White House have been at odds over the legislation for months now.

Last week, Republicans pushed a $500 billion package in the Senate in an attempt to provide some aid to struggling Americans, but Democrats shot the bill down.

“It doesn’t help state and local workers at all,” claimed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “Our heroes, hence the name HEROES Act, health care workers, first responders, police, fire, transportation, sanitation, teachers, teachers, teachers, food workers who meet the needs of people will be fired.”

GOP senators have given a dire prediction for any future hopes for relief and have said it’s up to Speaker Pelosi to drop the costly Democrat demands holding up the legislation.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., rides the elevator after a vote in the Senate chamber, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Meanwhile, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental affairs Committee is conducting a broad investigation into the transition period between the Obama administration and Trump administration.

On Wednesday, Sen. Ron Johnson is holding a vote to authorize subpoenas for several officials in his probe into the Obama administration.

Additionally, the House is pushing multiple non-discrimination bills forward. The legislation being considered includes bills aimed at protecting pregnant women from work place discrimination, promoting diversity in education and condemning “all forms of anti-Asian sentiment” tied to COVID-19.

Finally, the Senate is gearing up to vote on several judicial nominations throughout the week.

RELATED: President Trump says Pelosi, Schumer do not want deal on pandemic relief

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Man faces trial over alleged hit-and-run during street race

A MURWILLUMBAH man who allegedly fled the scene after hitting a pedestrian during a street race in Tweed Heads South in 2018 is facing trial.

Danny John Maloney, 29, is before the Lismore District Court charged with failing to stop and assist after his vehicle caused grievous bodily harm.

He has pleaded not guilty.

Police will allege Mr Maloney was the driver responsible for striking a 59-year-old woman on Minjungbal Drive, Tweed Heads South.

Mr Maloney allegedly was travelling southbound at high speed a white Mitsubishi Triton alongside two other vehicles towards Sexton Hill Drive about 8pm on July 8, 2018, the court heard.

Mr Maloney then allegedly mounted a kerb under the bridge of the Pacific Highway overpass after failing to navigate a right hand turn in the road and struck the woman.

He then allegedly fled the scene.

The woman suffered head and leg injuries as a result of the incident.


A CCTV image of a white ute involved in an alleged hit and run last in Tweed Heads South in 2018.


Mr Maloney is also charged with dangerous driving and negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm.

However, Mr Maloney’s defence lawyer, Rod Behan, said his client doesn’t dispute these charges but he was unaware at the time he hit a pedestrian and therefore believed he had no reason to stop and assist.

The court heard the agreed facts of the case stated the vehicle Mr Maloney was driving had collided with the woman on the footpath causing her grievous bodily harm.

The Crown prosecutor told the jury Mr Maloney cooperated with police a few days after the incident but claimed he hadn’t known he hit a pedestrian.

Mr Maloney allegedly told police during an interview he had only been travelling 60km/h when he came around the bend into the tunnel.

He claimed the tunnel was dark and he couldn’t see any pedestrians.

The Crown Prosecutor said Mr Maloney claimed he left hand lane when a car in the middle lane suddenly veered in front of him, which ultimately caused him to mount the footpath.

“You’ll hear there was no evidence from anyone else there was another car,” the Crown Prosecutor said.

“You’ll see CCTV footage from up the road, that CCTV footage show no other car.”

The Crown Prosecutor said Mr Maloney must have known he hit the woman and caused her serious injury because the impact he must have felt would have been consistent with when someone is aware that they’ve hit an animal or a wheelie bin.

Mr Behan said the jury would have to decide how his client should have known to stop to render assistance if he didn’t even know he hit the woman in the first place.

“Mr Maloney has admitted his guilt to the relation of his driving and the serious injuries of the victim… but the charge before you is if he then failed to stop and assist,” Mr Behan said.

“If he didn’t know the vehicle struck the pedestrian, he could not have known it caused grievous bodily harm.”

The trial continues on Tuesday.

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F1 live, Tuscan GP live, starting positions, race start, Lewis Hamilton, Daniel Ricciardo

Lewis Hamilton demonstrated his class and authority on an afternoon of wild chaos on Sunday when he won an extraordinary crash-hit Tuscan Grand Prix to extend his runaway lead in this year’s Formula One championship.

Reigning champion Hamilton finished ahead of his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas at Mugello to claim his 90th F1 victory, moving the Briton to within one win of equalling Michael Schumacher’s all-time record for GP wins.

F1 race restart MADNESS!


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Scroll down to follow the race in our live blog

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Freeman’s race was all about race

The film, to be screened on the ABC on Sunday night, elegantly recaptured that period and the idea of how Freeman’s race was all about race. How her race elevated her race.

Since she emerged in Australia as a gifted teenager, sections of the country wrestled with how to deal with the precociously talented runner at a time when a light was being shone on Australia’s relationship with its first peoples.

I was a kid who was quite embarrassed to be a black kid, an Indigenous kid. I grew up with that self-image.

Cathy Freeman

Freeman embodied that Australia. Before the Sydney Olympics, a quarter of a million people marched over the Sydney Harbour Bridge for reconciliation at a time when the federal government refused to apologise to the stolen generations.

“I was a kid who was quite embarrassed to be a black kid, an Indigenous kid,” she recalled.

“I grew up with that self-image. I could never understand why I smiled at someone and they didn’t smile back. I would get really upset – why don’t you smile back? It used to devastate me.”

Cathy Freeman at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Credit:Getty Images

She told of how at 10 she won a footrace but was never given the winner’s trophy. “Apparently because I was black,” she said.

At the Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada in 1996 Arthur Tunstall, the powerful but controversial Games administrator, thundered at Freeman for celebrating with the Aboriginal flag and an Australian flag during her gold medal victory lap.

“I wanted to shout, ‘Look at me. Look at … my skin, I am black and I am the best there is. No more shame,'” Freeman said.

“I have always been very mindful of my ancestors.”

The film explains how her paternal grandfather Frank Fisher fought with the light horse in WW1 but when he returned to Australia his service was not recognised and he was not entitled to land grants as white soldiers were.

Her maternal grandfather George Sibley refused to sign over control of his work pay cheque to the local police station and so was banished, along with his family, to Palm Island.

The idea of who Freeman was and where she came from was so fundamental to understanding her but also understanding why her victory in Sydney remains so significant.

She had lit the flame to open the Olympic Games. She was the home country’s best athlete on the track – the biggest sport at the Olympics – and she carried the torch for a change in race relations in Australia.

Cathy Freeman ignites the Olympic flame.

Cathy Freeman ignites the Olympic flame. Credit:AP

But ultimately she was also an athlete and it was a story of running and winning. And to do that she had to confront Marie-Jose Perec, the French champion who had won the two previous Olympic gold medals.

Perec was an enigmatic, intimidating presence on the track. Tall and imposing, she was classically athletic and powerful to the shorter Freeman’s long-legged fluidity.

Leading into Sydney, Perec was the rival who could stop Freeman from winning gold even though she had not beaten Freeman in four years at that time. The attention on her was acute, the drama reminiscent of a soap opera. She was harassed and hounded and eventually controversially fled the country in mysterious circumstances, amid doubtful stories of intruders and threats.

Later, Perec said: “The 400m in Sydney was not a race against Cathy Freeman, it was a race against an entire nation which had its problems. I was only prepared for a 400m.” She was not wrong.

The race was a moment when time stopped for everyone, including Freeman. Michael Johnson, who that night would win a second consecutive gold medal, said all of the eight finalists in the men’s 400m left the call room to go out on the track and watch Freeman race.

Cathy Freeman celebrates her Sydney Olympic gold medal win with the Aboriginal and Australian flags.

Cathy Freeman celebrates her Sydney Olympic gold medal win with the Aboriginal and Australian flags. Credit:AP

Freeman had felt calm by the time of her race, able to blinker out the noise of 110,000 people in the stadium.

She wore a hooded speed skater fast suit designed specifically for her to reduce wind drag. It was trialled and fine-tuned but even those at Nike, who made it, were uncertain until the night that she was actually going to wear the suit.

With her coach Peter Fortune they recalled the race plan and how she would attack the race. Commentator Bruce McAvaney and her biographer, journalist Scott Gullan, remember the horror of realising as she rounded the final bend that she was in third place. She flew home, cut a look to the clock for her time and dropped to the track, spent.

Cathy Feeman's infamous Nike suit was designed to reduce wind drag.

Cathy Feeman’s infamous Nike suit was designed to reduce wind drag. Credit:Getty Images

Fortune said: “The first thing she said to me was, ‘Oh Fort, the time was a bit slow.'”

She might have been a symbol of race in this country but she was also first and foremost an athlete.

“I should have run under 49 [seconds] and I didn’t and I knew I had a lot more in me,” Freeman said.

But she accepted the other women never really stood a chance.

“I feel like I am protected. My ancestors were the first to walk this land. It [is] a really powerful force. Those other girls were always going to have to come up against my ancestors,” Freeman said.

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