Freeman welcomes Perec's return - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Freeman welcomes Perec's return

By Steve Larkin 06/02/2003 10:34:25 PM Comments (0)

Cathy Freeman says she relishes the prospect of racing French rival Marie-Jose Perec this August in athletic's most awaited showdown.

For seven years, Australia's Olympic 400 metre champion has yearned to prove a dominance over Perec.

Freeman was denied the chance when the Frenchwoman mysteriously bolted from the 2000 Sydney Olympics without setting foot on track, claiming she had received death threats in her hotel room.

Breaking her silence this week Perec said she had been prepared for the Olympics but "not to fight an entire nation" and described her Australian experience as a nightmare.

The triple Olympic champion told a French newspaper she was currently training with the goal of contesting the world championships in her home city of Paris in August.

Freeman, who became a national heroine on winning gold in Sydney in Perec's absence, welcomed her the return of a rival who has not raced since prior to the Sydney Games.

Freeman and Perec have not raced each other since 1996, at a post-Olympic meet in Brussels when the Australian broke through for her sole triumph over the Frenchwoman.

They were set for rematch weeks later in Milan but Perec withdrew, again in mystery, after warming up for the event.

"I welcome her with open arms," Freeman said.

"I try not to focus on any one competitor because I know in my sport there is a level that I compete at.

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