Cathy’s rating an ‘insult’
By Jon Anderson
October 16, 2006
CATHY Freeman’s ranking in a list of “Australia’s best sports stars of our time” has been criticised by athletic legend Raelene Boyle.
The list, to be published on Thursday in leading sports magazine Alpha, rates Australia’s greats from 1976-2006.
All the usual suspects are there, from Ian Thorpe to Wayne Carey and Karrie Webb to Mick Doohan.
Freeman makes the top 10, but is rated behind the likes of Greg Norman, Carey and Wally Lewis which, according to the outspoken Boyle, is “just wrong”.
“How could you rate a cricketer or footballer ahead of Cathy? Footballers in Aussie rules or rugby league basically don’t play overseas, while cricket is played by half a dozen countries,” Boyle said.
"You’re telling me Greg Norman is ahead of Cathy. So I take it the poll has been done on public profile as distinct from achievements at the highest level.
"What Norman has done for the profile of golf is brilliant, as was what he achieved in terms of worldwide victories.
"But he got four chances a year to compete at the highest level (US Masters, US Open, US PGA, British Open) and he won just two.
"How many Majors did he compete in over 25 years, 60 or 70? Cathy only got four chances to compete at the absolute elite level. In Atlanta in the 1996 Olympic 400m final she ran a brilliant 48.63sec to finish second to a red-hot Marie-Jose Perec.
“She then won world titles at Athens in 1997 and Seville in 1999 and then everyone knows what happened at the Sydney Olympics. So four tries, she won three and finished second.”
Olympic long jumper Dave Culbert, now Australia’s leading athletics commentator, supported Boyle, saying it was ridiculous to place a footballer ahead of Freeman.
"If Ian Thorpe is rated No.1 ahead of Cathy I will accept it, but not if a footballer is named before her. How often was she beaten over 400m between 1996 and 2000? From memory she won something like 45 of 47 races internationally, losing once when she was injured.
"Then again I’m biased because as much as I love watching blokes like Wayne Carey and Michael Voss play, I wouldn’t have them in Australia’s top 20 sports persons in the last 30 years.
"I’m big on those who go overseas and perform, people such as Robbie McEwen (ranked 46th) and ‘Deek’ (Rob de Castella, 39th). They’ve been ranked the best in the world. Footballers don’t get that opportunity and as such you have to judge them accordingly. Hard, but fair in my mind.
"People tend to forget how brilliant Cathy was in the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Canada when she won the 200m-400m double. You can add those to the Olympics and world championships.
“She just has to be in the top three and, if not, then the judges need to take a good look at themselves.”