Australia’s most well-known female athlete, Cathy Freeman, has publicly congratulated the Matildas on their history-making FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign.
While the Aussies lost to England 3-1 in a heartbreaking result, the Matildas’ run to the final four captivated the nation.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Cathy Freeman’s message to the Matildas.
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The semi-final clash against England on Wednesday smashed TV ratings, becoming the most watched TV program in Australian homes since Freeman won the gold medal in the 400m sprint at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
Freeman took to Twitter to congratulate the team.
“So incredibly proud of our girls! You gave it everything and inspired an entire nation! Hold your head up high and here’s to the future,” she wrote.
Cathy Freeman has congratulated the Matildas on their FIFA Womens World Cup campaign. Credit: Norvik Alaverdian/ Nick Wilson/Getty Images/ALLSPORT
On the eve of the Women’s World Cup, Freeman surprised the Matildas in camp to give some key advice on how to handle the pressure in their bid to make history.
Many players, including captain Sam Kerr and Indigenous stars Kyah Simon and Lydia Williams, have cited the Australian athletics legend Freeman’s incredible gold medal 400m run at the 2000 Sydney Olympics as a defining moment of their childhoods.
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Ahead of their friendly against France in July, players entered what they thought was a tactics meeting with coach Tony Gustavsson – only to be stunned when Freeman appeared in the room.
“We plodded all in there, sat down on our chairs and he mentioned that whilst these types of tournaments require a lot of tactics, it also requires a lot of belief and a lot of heart and so we were gonna take a little bit of a turn and do something a bit different’,” veteran defender Aivi Luik told reporters at the time.
“They played about a three-minute highlight reel on YouTube of the moment of Cathy Freeman’s race and by the end of it, there was a lot of emotion going around in the room.
“When they turned the lights on, we turned around and there she was.
“It was a huge surprise to us. A lot of girls were very emotional.”
– With AAP.
The Matildas huddle in a heart shape after the loss to England. Credit: Getty Images