Belinda Clark on Cathy Freeman

The allrounder

ESPNcricinfo staff
On the field, she was amazing, but that wasn't all there was to her

Freeman: more than just an athlete © Getty Images

Growing up, I played a lot of tennis, so I had an interest in it. I was interested in people who perform under extreme pressure. As a kid, watching Wimbledon finals I used to think, "Oh, that's immense pressure, to have to perform on that particular day."

I think Cathy Freeman pretty much topped the list with the amount of pressure she was under at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. For her to be able to pull it off on that particular night and win the 400m gold was something I admired greatly. I was living in Sydney at that time, about five kilometres from the Olympic stadium, and I could hear the roar of the crowd from that far away. It was amazing.

I've been following her progress for a number of years and I admire her athletic ability and her ability to perform on the day, but there's also another side to it. She speaks her mind and is totally unaffected by fame. It's also about what she's willing to contribute off the field, and she's managed to do that beyond the 2000 Olympics. She's trying to help the indigenous community in Australia, and I admire that.

Australia have had a lot of good female athletes but I think her achievements in general - being an indigenous person, following her dream, and giving back to society, make her special. It all adds up.

As told to Jenny Thompson. This article was first published in the print edition of Cricinfo Magazine