Catherine Astrid Salome Freeman (born February 16, 1973) is an Australian athlete. As an Aborigine, she is regarded as a role model for her still-disadvantaged people, and by many in the non-Aboriginal community of a symbol of attempts at reconciliation with the Aboriginal people.
Born in Mackay, Queensland, Australia, Freeman won the Olympic title in the 400 m event in front of her home crowd in Sydney on September 25, 2000 during the Sydney 2000 Olympics. The medal is regarded as Australia's 100th gold medal. Earlier, she lit the Olympic Flame in the Games' opening ceremonies. This made her the only Olympic flame lighter that went on to win a gold medal at the same games.
Prior to 2000, Freeman had already won two World Championships in the same distance, in Athens (1997) and Seville (1999). At the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, she won the silver medal behind Marie-Josť Perec of France in the 400m event.
She created a great deal of controversy at the 1994 Commonwealth Games by waving the Aboriginal flag as well as the Australian flag during her victory lap of the arena. Normally, only the national flag is so waved. There was no such controversy when she did the same after winning her gold medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, even though the use of non-national flags at the Olympics is officially forbidden.
Freeman had a long-term romantic relationship with Nick Bideau, her manager, that ended in acrimony and legal wranglings over Freeman's endorsement earnings.
Returning to running in 2003, Freeman clearly struggled for form and motivation after losses to upcoming Australian runner Jana Pittman, and a fifth placing in an athletics meet in May where she was thoroughly trounced by Ana Guevara of Mexico, the fastest 400 metre runner at that time.