An Aboriginal sprinter from Australia caused an uproar when she chose to celebrate her Aboriginal heritage during a victory lap at the Commonwealth Games.
After winning the women’s 400-metre gold medal on Aug. 23, Cathy Freeman put the blue Australian flag over her right shoulder and the red, gold and black Aboriginal flag over her left as she went off on the customary victory lap at the Games in Victoria, B.C. Freeman was only the third Aboriginal person to win a Commonwealth Games gold medal.
Team manager Arthur Tunstall reacted angrily. “Australia is competing in the Commonwealth Games under the Australian flag,” he said in a statement. “Australia has athletes competing here from various backgrounds who have come together under one flag for these Games.”
It’s not the first time Tunstall has made strange comments during the Games. Just before the Games started, he was roundly criticized for saying that it was an “embarassment” to have disabled athletes competing in Victoria.
Freeman would not respond to Tunstall’s comments, and competed later in the week in the women’s 200 metres. But her coach said Tunstall’s statement was inappropriate since Freeman was still competing in the 200-metre event.