| FREEMAN: Stronger after a personal crisis
Melbourne: Australia’s Olympic champion Cathy Freeman says she has emerged strong from a personal crisis and is determined to claim a third world title this year.
Freeman, who turns 30 on February 16, has been largely unsighted in international athletics since winning the 400m title before her home crowd at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
In her absence, Mexico’s Ana Guevara was one of four athletes to share last year’s Golden League jackpot, pricking Freeman’s competitive spirit with her sub-50 second performances.
“I intend to make the most of each opportunity. I’ve been out of the sport for two years essentially,” Freeman said Monday. “It’s about running as hard as I possibly can regardless of whether I’m getting pushed or not.
“Naturally I would like to win another Olympic gold medal. I’d love to win another world title before then but it’s not a given. There’s no doubt about it, she (Guevara) is very good. I can’t wait to race her actually. Let’s go!”
Freeman took an 18-month break from international athletics after the Sydney Games.
Australia’s most prominent Aboriginal athlete won gold in the 4x400 relay at last year’s Manchester Commonwealth Games but chose not to tackle the individual event so she could spend more time with husband Alexander Bodecker, who was fighting throat cancer and has since recovered.
“My personal life is intact. I think I’m training harder than ever before,” Freeman said.
Freeman said she had already told her coach Peter Fortune: “Don’t be afraid to throw me to the wolves.”
“I think there’s just a little bit more fear in my bones about not being able to get back to where I’ve been,” she said.
Australia’s Commonwealth 400m hurdles champion Jana Pittman, who also won gold in the relay with Freeman, is expected to clash with her idol during the domestic series this month. Freeman claimed world titles in 1997 and 1999 while Pittman won the 400 and 400 hurdles double at the 2000 world junior championships.
“Cathy and I have our goals set towards the world championships (in Paris in August),” the 20-year-old said.
“I’m looking forward to the opportunity (of racing Freeman) but basically it gives us the chance to see how we’re going and see how our training’s going at this point of the year, because our main focus will obviously be in Europe.”