REAL AUSTRALIA

Voice of Real Australia: Has Australia followed Cathy Freeman's lead?

Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from ACM, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend.

That night in September, 2000. Cathy Freeman and Jai Taurima. Photo: Peter Gleeson

That night in September, 2000. Cathy Freeman and Jai Taurima. Photo: Peter Gleeson

It was one of those occasions - when you remember.

I remember the noise, then nothing, the silence, the crescendo and then the blur of everything. Now it's back to pretty much nothing.

The intricate details, well, not so much. Thankfully (or not sometimes), there are elements of the 21st century that mean you barely get a chance to leave a memory behind.

The prodding of our national memory began on September 13. And as utterly wonderful as ABC's Freeman documentary was - why? Why September 13?

The 2000 opening was September 15, the closing was October 1 and Cathy Freeman's oh-so special moment on the track came 20 years ago today - September 25. Regardless of all that, - it is a must-see documentary.

If you choose so, your Olympic needs - unfulfilled this year thanks to COVID-19 - could almost have been sated in the past few weeks. You could've relived pretty much every day of the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

September 25 was a Monday in 2000. For even the most casual of sports fans, it was a big night. For those of us a little obsessive about all things sweaty, it was the biggest pre-COVID buffet you could imagine ... Michael Johnson, Haile Gebrselassie, Jonathan Edwards plus the homegrown stars, Cathy Freeman, Jai Taurima and Tatiana Grigorieva. And we know how it panned out.

But from the noise, the celebration, the back-slapping, the smiles and the tears of Homebush, has much changed?

Is there still inequity across cultural and racial groups? Are opportunities equally available regardless of gender, geography or age? And, in these COVID times, should we even be pumping millions of dollars into elite level sport when simple health needs could be better funded?

Without wanting to pile even more pressure onto the woman of the moment, it could be worth checking out exactly what Cathy Freeman's up to these days.

That night, up in the nosebleed seats, I wanted her to win as much as the next person. Now, I think Australia hasn't followed through on the promise of Cathy Freeman. Cathy Freeman has. We should take her lead again.

More stuff happening around Australia ...

Sign up to get our Voice of Real Australia updates straight to your inbox