The night that Cathy Freeman won the 400 at the Sydney Olympics, some 118,000 people jammed into Olympic Stadium. Down on the field, she would later say, the sound and light and noise was almost overwhelming. So, too, the expectation. She said it was like trying to get your bearings and finding yourself in electric jello. Just off the track, in a VIP box near the finish line, the chief organizer of those 2000 Sydney Games, Michael Knight, was sharing the evening with a number of influential aboriginal activists, among them Lyall Munro, a campaigner for aboriginal rights since the 1960s.
Cathy Freeman, in Lane Six, was not first as the field swung around the final turn, the stadium keening with sound. But then she turned on the jets. She won convincingly. And as she crossed the line, as all those in Knight's box gave in to cheers and hugs, they noticed that Lyall Munro had tears in his eyes. They were tears of joy.
"In 50 seconds," Lyall Munro told Michael Knight that night, a rough estimate of how long it took Cathy Freeman to complete one revolution around the track, "that young woman has done for my people than I've done in a lifetime."
The tenth anniversary of the Sydney Olympics arrived Wednesday. Already so long ago -- there have been five editions of the Games since, Summer or Winter -- and yet those 2000 Games remain for many the best Olympics ever.
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