By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year
September 12 - Cathy Freeman has claimed that Australia should be awarded the 2022 World Cup because the 2000 Sydney Olympics was such an outstanding success that showed the country is capable of staging majors events better than anyone else.
Freeman produced the most unforgettable moment of the Games in Sydney when she raced to victory in the 400 metres before a crowd of 110,000, a performance which was credited with helping Aboriginal reconciliation.
Sydney is still widely considered to be the most successful in the Movement's history and were described by then International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Juan Antonio Samaranch as the "best ever".
Australia is one of the favourites to be awarded the 2022 World Cup by FIFA but faces stiff oppostion from the Japan, Qatar, South Korea and the United States.
"Australia is the best choice to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022 because we have experience that we have grown out of the Sydney Olympics in 2000," said Freeman.
"We are a sports loving nation and football is our growing passion.
"I have experienced the power and passion of an Australian crowd - I only have to draw on my experience from the Sydney Olympics 2000.
"We are a welcoming country for all those who come here to compete."
As a show of her support, Freeman met a delegation of FIFA inspectors in July, when they visited Australia to examine the credentials of Australia's bid to win the right to host the World Cup in 2022.
Freeman relived the experience of winning her gold medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games for the delegates at the scene of the event, Stadium Australia (pictured).
She will be centrepiece again this week when Sydney holds a series of celebrations to mark the tenth anniversary of the Opening Ceremony of the Games, when Freeman lit the flame.
"The 2022 FIFA World Cup held here in Australia will unite Australia - just as the Sydney 2000 Olympics did," said Freeman.
"We are a fantastic place to visit and as Australians we are friendly.
"This is our opportunity to showcase to the world the very best of who we are.
"I encourage all Australians to support our country's bid by adding your name to www.australiabid.com.au."
FIFA's ruling Executive Committee is due to announce which country will host the 2022 World Cup at a meeting in Zurich on December 2.
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August 2010: Freeman to re-light Olympic flame to mark 10th anniversary of Sydney Games