As part of a NSW Government initiative to celebrate Australia’s greatest female athletes, the Eastern Grandstand at Accor Stadium in Sydney Olympic Park will now be officially known as the ‘Cathy Freeman Stand’.
Still glowing from the recent FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023TM, the stadium has become synonymous with female sporting legends.
This significant honour to Cathy Freeman OAM comes as the result of a nomination process initiated by the Minns Government earlier this year.
Members of the public were invited to nominate a female sporting hero deserving of a grandstand named in her honour.
The initiative is delivering on a Minns Government election commitment to acknowledge female athletes on the state’s grandstands, promoting women’s participation in sports.
Ms Freeman, a proud Kuku Yalanji and Birri Gubba woman, is one of Australia’s most celebrated athletes.
Her achievements include Olympic gold and silver medals, two world titles and four Commonwealth Games gold medals.
The stadium holds a special place in Ms Freeman’s career and world sporting history.
It is where she lit the flame to mark the start of the 2000 Sydney Olympics on 15 September 2000 – 23 years ago today – and 10 nights later claimed individual gold in the 400m final.
That victory in front of a home crowd of 112,524 spectators saw her become the first Aboriginal Australian to win an individual Olympic gold medal.
That iconic gold medal run and victory lap carrying both the Aboriginal and Australian flags held the record of the most-watched television event in Australian history with 8.8 million live viewers, which was only topped in August with the Matildas’ Semi-Final match against England at Accor Stadium with a peak of 11.15 million viewers.
It was the 100th Olympic gold medal won by an Australian.
The newly renamed Cathy Freeman Stand is the main public seating area of Accor Stadium and seats nearly 30,000 spectators.
It is the closest to the major public transport links to Sydney Olympic Park, is located adjacent to Cathy Freeman Park and houses the athlete’s tunnel from which Ms Freeman emerged in a high-tech full body suit for the 400m Olympic final.
The Cathy Freeman Stand is the second female athlete recognition announcement made by the Minns Government.
This follows the announcement that a giant mural has been commissioned to celebrate the Matildas’ historic success at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023TM tournament.
The permanent artwork, to be installed on the external façade of the eastern side of the stadium, will serve as a permanent reminder of how the team’s run at the World Cup captured the imagination of the nation and inspired the next generation of female athletes.
In a true sign Australia’s female sporting sisterhood, Ms Freeman met with the Matildas in the days leading into their opening FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023TM match, to share guidance and advice to the team.
Cathy Freeman OAM said:
“I am deeply honoured and humbled by this recognition.
“This stadium and Sydney Olympic Park hold a truly special place in my heart and that will never change.
“I hope that my story continues to inspire generations of girls and boys to chase their own dreams in sport and life.
“Like the rest of Australia, I cheered on the Matildas during the FIFA Women’s World Cup and I can’t wait to see future generations of Australian female athletes make their mark.”
The Premier of New South Wales, Chris Minns, said:
“It’s about time we name a grandstand in NSW after a woman, and I can’t think of a better athlete then Cathy Freeman.
“I’m so proud to announce that Cathy Freeman will have a grandstand named after her at the home of Australia’s biggest sporting moments.
“Cathy’s a national sporting hero. Everybody remembers where they were when Cathy Freeman produced her historic 400 metre race to win gold for Australia at the Sydney Olympics.
“I want the next generation of young girls to watch sport at this stadium, looking up at the Cathy Freeman Stand, thinking about their own sporting dreams.”
The Minister for Sport, Steve Kamper, said:
“We have sculptures of Belinda Clark, Marlene Mathews and Betty Cuthbert at Moore Park, and now we have another deserving female sporting legend honoured at Sydney’s Accor Stadium, NSW’s home of major events.
“This wonderful venue has just hosted the single biggest sporting event this year, the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and it is fitting that the first name to adorn the stands here is a ground-breaking and inspirational Australian, Cathy Freeman.
“Cathy wowed crowds at this Sydney stadium and around the world with her athletic achievements and the symbolic lighting of the Olympic cauldron in 2000, and now her name will be emblazoned forever in that stadium to remind us all, always, of her achievements.”
The Minister for Women, Jodie Harrison, said:
“The renaming of the stand serves as a lasting tribute to Cathy Freeman’s exceptional career and her immense contributions to Australian sports.
“It also symbolises the NSW Government’s commitment to recognising and empowering female athletes, inspiring future generations of women to excel in the world of sports.”
Premier of New South Wales
Minister for Sport
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Minister for Multiculturalism
Minister for Women
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