« Cathy Freeman has a way with words that is sheer poetry. I’ve never heard anyone describe things the way she does. »
On Sunday night, the ABC premiered a new documentary on legendary sprinter Cathy Freeman’s historic win at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Audiences flocked to Twitter to share their strong feelings, as viewers reflected on Freeman’s resilience and sportsmanship.
Featuring interviews with Freeman, it reflects on her lifelong love for running, the roads that took her to the world stage, and the immense pressure she faced during the 2000 Olympics as an athlete and a symbol for so much more.
It also covers the controversy she found herself within at the 1994 Commonwealth Games, where she draped herself in the Aboriginal flag — an ‘unofficial’ and therefore banned flag — after winning gold in the 400m race.
As Belinda Duarte wrote for the Guardian, “FREEMAN is more than a documentary about a race and the woman who won it. It documents a moment in time when a nation was challenged about its identity through a world-class athlete who was anchored in her culture and intention to win Olympic gold. This moment united a nation like never before in the history of Australia. It was a historic moment that grounded its people in an uncommon place.”
On Twitter, people were floored by the 60-minute documentary, with many in particular praising Freeman’s “vivid” and “passionate” interviews.
“Cathy Freeman has a way with words that is sheer poetry,” wrote Magda Szubanksi. “I’ve never heard anyone describe things the way she does. She allows us a sense of what it must feel like to live in her free, unbound, limitless body and soul. A place where separateness and gravity do not exist.”
“You couldn’t script the story and myth of @CathyFreeman into existence, and #FreemanABC – this unexpectedly beautiful marriage of dance, sport, history and politics – really does it justice,” wrote Benjamin Law. “Goosebumps.”
So much to love about #FreemanABC but the verbal storytelling from Cathy was remarkable. To be able to so vividly and passionately describe the events is so impressive.
Love hearing @CathyFreeman talk though her thoughts, sounds, tastes, feelings and emotions during THAT race. Beautiful documentary, thank you for sharing, you are awesome! #FreemanABC
Where many were prompted to reflect on where they were and how they felt when Freeman won — becoming the second Indigenous Australian to win a gold Olympic medal, and the first in an individual met — others were simply astonished by her strength of character.
The mental toughness required on top of all the physical demands of Olympic athletics. I just don’t know how it’s possible. #FreemanABC
Cathy Freeman had the words « I am the world’s greatest athlete » on her wall as a girl. Champion. #freemanabc
“I feel like I’m being protected. Those other girls were always gonna have to come up against my ancestors. I will win this. Who’s going to stop me?”
Others found it to be one of the most uplifting and transcendent watches of the year, momentarily washing away the muck of 2020.
The Cathy Freeman Documentary on ABC last night was the most spine tingling thing I’ve watched all year. No other sporting moment or show has moved me like that did. Unbelievable. What an amazing human being. #freemanabc
That felt so beautiful to have an hour of not worrying what could go wrong, not thinking about heartbreak & not concerning yourself with the fear of racism winning. Even if only for that hour, I feel like I’m floating with her. #freemanabc
Such an amazing story & a magical moment relived from 2000. A stand out comment for me was about dreaming bigger. So for those who need it today, don’t be afraid. pic.twitter.com/dIhvBh5mYc
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