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In 1997, Freeman won the 400 m at the World Championships in Athens, with a time of 49.77 seconds.

Her only loss in the 400 m that season was in Oslo where she injured her foot.

Although a medal favourite at the 1995 World Championships in Athletics in Sweden, Freeman finished fourth. Freeman made more progress during the 1996 season, setting many personal bests and Australian records.

She eventually took the silver medal behind Pérec, in an Australian record of 48.63 seconds.

This is still the sixth-fastest time ever and the second-fastest since the world record was set in Canberra, Australia in 1985.

Shortly after moving to Melbourne Nic Bideau, her manager, introduced Freeman to athletics coach Peter Fortune, who would become Freeman's coach for the rest of her career.

She was then selected to represent Australia at the 1990 World Junior Championships in Athletics in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

The team won the gold medal, making Freeman the first-ever Aboriginal Commonwealth Games gold medallist, as well as one of the youngest, at 16 years old.

She moved to Melbourne in 1990 after the Auckland Commonwealth Games.

She also won the silver medal in the 1996 Olympics and came first at the 1997 World Championships, in the 400 m event.

In 1998 Freeman took a break from running due to injury. By her early teens she had a collection of regional and national titles, having competed in the 100 m, 200 m, high jump and long jump.

This showdown never happened, as Pérec left the Games after what she describes as harassment from strangers.

Freeman won the Olympic title in a time of 49.11 seconds, becoming only the second Australian Aboriginal Olympic champion (the first was Freeman's 4 × 400 teammate Nova Peris-Kneebone who won for field hockey four years earlier in Atlanta).

She returned from injury in form with a first place in the 400 m at the 1999 World Championships. In 1987, Freeman moved on to Kooralbyn International School to be coached professionally by Romanian Mike Danila, who became her first coach and later a key influence throughout her career; he provided a strict training regime for the young athlete. In a competition in 1989, Freeman ran 11.67s in the 100 metres and Danila began to think about entering her in the Commonwealth Games Trials in Sydney.