Cathy Freeman is the only person to have been named both Young Australian of the Year and Australian of the Year. She first attracted national attention as a 16-year-old at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland. Four years later she won gold in both the 200m and 400m events at the Commonwealth Games in Canada, where she famously carried an Aboriginal flag for her victory lap. Freeman won a silver medal at the 1996 Olympic Games and broke the Australian record for the 400m. In 1997 she dominated this event, winning all but one race and claiming gold at the World Championships in Athens.
Accepting her Australian of the Year award, Freeman said she had an important role to play advancing the cause of reconciliation. Two years later she lit the Olympic Flame at the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney Games and won gold in the 400m. For her victory lap she carried both an Aboriginal and Australian flag.