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Sydney Celebrates 17 Years Since The “Best Ever” Games

  • Friday 15 September is the 17th anniversary of the 2000 Sydney Olympics;
  • On 15 September 2000, Cathy Freeman lights the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony, and 10 days later races to gold in the women’s 400m;
  • Australia finishes 4th on the Medal Table with 16 gold and 58 total medals;
  • The biggest crowds in Olympic history turn out to watch the Games: 4.5 million people pass through Sydney Olympic Park. The Olympic Stadium welcomes 110,000 for Opening Ceremony, 112,524 for Cathy Freeman’s gold medal run, 104,098 for the men’s Football Final, and 114,714 for the Closing Ceremony;

Julian Keith

WHERE were you on the evening of 15 September 2000? When our golden girl Cathy Freeman lit the flame for a Sydney Olympics that were destined to become “the best ever” Games.

Were you at the Sydney Olympic Stadium that night? Or one of the 3.7 billion TV viewers around the world who tuned in to the momentous events unfolding in Sydney?

It’s 17 years this year since we welcomed the world here at Stadium Australia – 17 years since the exceptional Sydney Games became a turning point for our great city.

The 2000 Sydney Games were a true celebration of Olympic values and sporting excellence, but they were also a point in history – a fortnight that bonded Sydneysiders like never before and showed the world what an amazing city we live in.

One of the extraordinary characteristics of the Sydney Olympics was the number of volunteers – all  46,967 of them, which had grown from an original number of 500 as Sydneysiders embraced the Games.

The Sydney Olympics featured 199 competing countries and 10,651 athletes who marched in the parade of nations at the Olympic Stadium.

The Opening Ceremony was a stunning tribute to Australian culture, history and identity – highlighted by golden girl Freeman lighting the Olympic torch, igniting the flame in the cauldron within a circle of fire. The emotional moment helped symbolise the desire to reconcile with the Aboriginal populations of Australia.

Ten days later, in front of 112,524 fans, then the largest attendance for any sport in Olympics history, Cathy raced to gold in the women’s 400m.

Today, Stadium Australia stands as a magnificent legacy of the Sydney Games, with 26 million fans having passed through the Stadium turnstiles to watch some of Australia’s most iconic sporting moments and biggest entertainment events.

And Cathy Freeman Park – located just outside the eastern gates of the Stadium – is a tribute to our golden girl’s 2000 heroics.

The original Olympic cauldron, with its distinct water fountain, can be found at the northern end of Cathy Freeman Park, while the athletics track Cathy raced on is still in use at the Sydney Olympic Park Athletics Centre, which is still connected by tunnel to Stadium Australia. This was the original athletics tunnel used during the Olympics.

Many of the original Olympics venues are today used successfully to host sports, cultural and entertainment events, with Sydney Olympic Park arguably the most successful post-Olympics precinct in history.

Happy Olympics Birthday, Australia.

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