Proudly wearing the Red, Black and Yellow of the Aboriginal flag, Deadly Vibe this month looks at the recent achievements of two champions, Cathy Freeman and Nicky Winmar.
Cathy Freeman is again in the spotlight of the world after she entered athletics history as the first Indigenous Australian woman to win a gold medal at the world athletics championships.
She joins Robert De Castella as the country’s only gold medallists from these titles.
“I’m so proud of who I am . . . Australian, Aborigine, Australian. Two and the same. I guess it is a pretty big milestone for us as a culture. There were times when I didn’t think I was going to get this far. I’m pretty happy with myself,” Cathy said after her 400 metre victory.
“What a tremendous person into an exclusive club,” Robert De Castella said.
Best in the world
Cathy thrilled the nation when she won by two one-hundredths of a second to be hailed the fastest woman in the world over 400 metres. Cathy was the shortest and lightest medal winner on the track. She was also the fastest with her very strong and powerful stride.
Cathy Freeman is a household name in Australia. Everyone wants her story, Sports Illustrated, Sixty Minutes and television networks from NBC in America to the BBC in Britain have interviewed her.
Cathy talked to the media about the battle she had to motivate herself this year on the training track, and of her break up with long term boyfriend and manager Nick Bideau. They had been partners since 1991 and he now remains her business manager.
“It’s been a big, big, big, big year for me and there were times I didn’t think I would make it,” she said.
Being a high profile sportsperson can be a heavy cross to bear. Cathy now has her sights set on gold for the year 2000.
Cathy, Cathy, Cathy . . .
The 24 year old’s name is on everyone’s lips. Athletics Australia president Terry Dwyer believes that Cathy has a chance to be historically one of the great athletes of the world. We at Deadly Vibe already think she is.
ATSIC Chairman Gatjil Djerrkura said that Cathy’s achievement is the reward for her determination and efforts over the year, but all Australians can share the feeling of joy in her win and feel pride as she represents Australia.
Charlie Perkins claims that one of the things that makes Cathy stand out and makes her so loved by Aboriginal people is that she never forgets where she came from, she can relate to everybody and never excludes anybody.
Red, Black and Yellow . . .
It means a lot to Indigenous Australians to see Cathy wrap herself in the Aboriginal flag and do a victory lap.
Cathy first wrapped herself in the Aboriginal flag after her gold medal at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria Canada.
In Athens Cathy wrapped herself in the Aboriginal and Australian flags passed to her from the stands.
“It was a wonderful surprise to see those beautiful, beautiful colours and I was told to walk down to where a group of people were, and wow, how could I just stand by and not take it,” Cathy said. “I could have no energy and still be able to carry those two flags,” she said, “How could I stand by and not . . . I’m such a proud Indigenous Australian.”
Cathy’s choice of flags may be limited at the Sydney Olympic Games. The IOC (International Olympic Committee) Olympic charter only allows athletes to carry the flag of the country they march into the stadium with at the opening ceremony.
Charlie Perkins claimed that Cathy would be the perfect flag bearer for the opening of the games.
“It would be marvellous if she carried the flag and I can’t think of a better ambassador, both as an athlete and as someone who personifies Australia.
Nicky Made History
Nicky Winmar has made AFL history again, this time in his eleventh season with St Kilda. He has become the first Aboriginal footballer to play 200 first grade games.
“It is a day I will never forget,” Nicky said.
“I’ve had my ups and downs over the years but I’m very happy to achieve this.”
Nicky has long been a role model for Aboriginal people from all walks of life, regardless of sporting ability. His strength, determination and huge talent have been a constant inspiration to young and old.
Nicky’s performance now provides goals for younger Aboriginal players to follow him in the 200 game club.
Michael O’Loughlin, who has already played 53 games, (at 20 years of age) would be at the top of that list of players to hopefully follow Nicky in having a 200 game career,
“To every young Aboriginal footballer who has the potential to go far in life, grab it with both hands and give it all you’ve got,” Nicky urges to young Indigenous footballers.
Since 1987, when Nicky played his first St Kilda match at Waverly Park against Essendon, he has emerged as one of the elite players of the Australian rules football league. He receives rich recognition from opposition coaches who always have to appoint their best players to defend him.
As is the case with many stars, Nicky’s private life is often public knowledge. Nicky admits the pressure of expectations as well as other issues almost caused him to walk away from football.
“I just didn’t want to come back,” Nicky said.
Nicky admits that having a high profile is difficult at times.
“Once your form slumps you really feel the pressure.”
Support of his family and club as well as the realisation of how important football was to his life, helped Nicky to knuckle down and continue his career.
Deadly Vibe is proud of Nicky’s great sporting achievement. Thank you for being such an inspiration.