2001 ESPY Awards
Australian track star Cathy Freeman accepts the Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award.
wav: 676 k
Real: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6
Cathy Freeman selected as Arthur Ashe Award winner
Australian track star Cathy Freeman, who burst into the international spotlight at the Sydney Olympic Games in September as the embodiment of the oppressed Aboriginal people, has been chosen as the recipient of the ESPY Awards' Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award.
In using that worldwide stage to raise awareness of her people's plight - comparable to American Indians - Freeman joined the ranks of Jessie Owens, Cassius Clay, John Carlos and Tommie Smith, who made social statements at Olympic venues. The ESPY Awards will be aired live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Monday, Feb. 12 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN. (The one-hour ESPY Red Carpet Special will begin at 8 p.m. and will include live arrivals.)
With the weight of an entire nation squarely upon her, Freeman lit the torch at the Olympic Games' Opening Ceremony. Given her identification with Aboriginal aims and ideals, the symbolism of her selection was not lost. Choosing her was not merely a salute to an elite athlete, but to an entire people. Freeman went on to win the gold medal in the 400-meter race, becoming the first of her nation?s indigenous people to win an individual Olympic Gold Medal.
"In taking up the cause of the Aboriginal people, while standing strong in her beliefs and reaching the pinnacle of athletic achievement, Cathy Freeman is a living legacy of Arthur Ashe's values, and we are proud to have her accept the Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award at the ESPY Awards," said Maureen Murray Quinn, executive director of the ESPY Awards. "Her spirit and deeds serve powerfully to remind us that Arthur's ideals live on, and that again one person's actions can boldly impact an entire population."
At the 1994 Commonwealth Games, Freeman carried the Aboriginal flag during her victory lap, igniting much discussion and raising awareness of race relations and the strained relationship between the native Aborigines and other Australians. She again took up the Aboriginal colors following her 400-meter victory at the 1997 World Championships. In 1998, she was named the Australian of the Year, one of the country?s highest civilian honors, for her cultural and athletic accomplishments.
The previous winners of the Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award: Jim Valvano, Steve Palermo, Howard Cosell, Loretta Claiborne, Muhammad Ali, Dean Smith, Billie Jean King and Columbine High School teacher William "Dave" Sanders.
|Cathy Freeman was named this year's Arthur Ashe Award recipient.|