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Cathy gets behind the camera

Australia's golden girl Cathy Freeman thrilled the cast of the TV drama All Saints when she dropped in to take a peek behind the scenes

She is, quite literally, the woman who stopped the nation with her gold-medal winning 400m race at the spectacularly successful 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

And it seems that Cathy Freeman is still stopping people in their tracks. When she recently visited the Seven Network studios in Sydney, production ground to a halt on a number of shows as people flocked to see the golden girl of the track in person.

Cathy, who has spent a great deal of her career in front of the sporting cameras, admitted she had never seen behind the scenes of a TV drama, so she was shown around the busy Studio C where All Saints is filmed.

Cameras stopped and the director yelled 'cut' as the 27-year-old was escorted onto the set and suddenly found herself the biggest star among a stable of stars.

Cathy and cast

On hand to welcome Cathy were cast members Erik Thomson, Libby Tanner, Ben Tari, Jeremy Cumpston and Judith McGrath.

'It's something I've always wanted to do - to watch what happens behind the scenes,' Cathy revealed. 'I find acting so powerful. In many ways I'm in awe of actors. They have a hard job, but are so convincing. They portray characters that thousands of people can relate to.'

Once the cameras rolled again, Cathy sat in as a few scenes were filmed and then the crew asked her to help out by operating the sound boom microphone. Although hesitant at first, soon she was operating the boom like a seasoned pro, following the actors around on the set as they performed their scenes.

'I definitely prefer just watching them at work. I don't know how they keep that thing up in the air for so long,' she laughed as she handed it back. 'It's so heavy.'

While Cathy brought along her gold medal to show to the cast, Erik brought the Olympic torch that he ran with in Broken Hill as part of the Torch Relay and asked Cathy to sign it.

'She was so gracious and happily signed it for me. She's a great sport,' Erik says. 'I wanted her to just visit the set and have a few laughs, look around and enjoy herself. She did let me hold her gold medal and put it around my neck, but I did feel like a bit of a fake. The medal is special and it's all hers - for her extraordinary achievement.

'What amazed me most about Cathy is how unaffected she really is. Despite all the adulation and what she's been through, she seems to be the same nice girl from Mackay [in Queensland] who just happens to be a brilliant runner.'

Cathy Freeman

Libby Tanner also posed for photos with Cathy and says there was one thing she wanted to tell her. 'I said I was so impressed with her all-in-one running suit. I thought she looked great in it. Cathy looked back at me and said, "Do you think so? Did I look okay?". I just laughed and said she looked brilliant!

'Not only did she look brilliant in the suit, but she had all that pressure and expectation on her with everyone waiting for that big race - and still she won. I think she's a truly extraordinary person. I hope she drops in again some day.'

Once her All Saints visit came to an end, Cathy bid the cast farewell amid a flurry of autographs. Leaving all the attention behind, Cathy and her husband Sandy Bodecker are setting off on a well-earned holiday in the US and South America.

'I'm just having a good time at the moment,' she smiled. 'I'm relaxed and feeling really free from being the "athlete" I'm accustomed to being.

'At this stage, I'm going to put a big sign on my door which says, "Gone fishing!".'

By John Burfitt
Photos: Gina Milicia
Hair   makeup: Maggie Kolev
Clothing inquiries: Dangerfield
Week of Nov 27, 2000
TV Week