HCA NEWS Cathy Freeman Hans Christian Andersen Ambassador

Cathy Freeman is ninth in the line of international icons to be appointed Hans Christian Andersen Ambassador in connection with Hans Christian Andersen 2005 - the worldwide celebration of the bicentenary of the birth of Hans Christian Andersen.

By ms - H.C. Andersen 2005 - 08 December 2003

HRH Crown Prince Frederik today appointed the Australian national heroine and star athlete Cathy Freeman as Hans Christian Andersen Ambassador at a ceremony hosted by the Lord Mayor at Copenhagen Town Hall. Additionally, the first major Copenhagen and international Hans Christian Andersen 2005 events were unveiled.

Lord Mayor Jens Kramer Mikkelsen welcomed Cathy Freeman after HRH Crown Prince Frederik motivated the appointment of the Australian star athlete with the following words, among others:

"In 2005, the world will join together to celebrate Hans Christian Andersen. In celebrating him, we grasp the opportunity to pay tribute to a group of people around the world. A group of people who have made a difference in the world through their lives, dreams and accomplishments. We call them Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors. No one is more worthy of this title than Cathy Freeman. Like Andersen, Cathy Freeman came from behind and surprised everyone by becoming one of the greatest athletes of her time. While striving to constantly improve her own performances on the track, she has also fought hard to improve the life of her own people. She has shown how natural skill and boundless determination can overcome any obstacle or prejudice. And while still young, she has accepted the position as a role model for people throughout the world - beyond gender and race. In the same way that the stories of "The Snow Queen" and "The Little Mermaid" continue to move and inspire us, so will the life and story of Cathy Freeman."

Cathy Freeman expressed her gratitude with the following words:

"I am delighted and honoured to be asked to represent Hans Christian Andersen and be involved in the 2005 celebrations of his life.  Storytelling is a great art, and a fundamental part of my indigenous culture where stories are passed down from generation to generation - keeping them alive and in the hearts of both the storyteller and listener. I am really looking forward to sharing his stories with a wider audience in the lead-up to 2005 and by being part of the birthday celebrations in Denmark and the rest of the world."

Role model
30-year-old Cathy Freeman - born Catherine Astrid Salome Freeman - is from Queensland State and considered one of the greatest Australian heroines as well as one of the greatest star athletes of our time. As an outspoken Aborigine with a successful athletic track record, she has become a role model for minorities around the world.

She experienced her major professional breakthrough in her primary discipline, the 400-metre sprint, at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games where she won the silver medal. A string of triumphs then secured her 22 gold medals in a row in the 400-metre sprint, including gold at the 1997 World Athletic Games in Athens. Still another World Athletics gold was added to her collection when she won the 400-metre sprint in Seville in 1999, but it was at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney where Cathy Freeman established herself in earnest as one of the world's greatest and most popular sports icons. First she carried the Olympic torch at the opening ceremony and then she made a childhood dream come true by winning the 400-metre sprint on home turf in Sydney in front of 110,000 spectators.

Ninth ambassador
Cathy Freeman is ninth in the line of international icons to be appointed Hans Christian Andersen Ambassador in connection with Hans Christian Andersen 2005 - the worldwide celebration of the bicentenary of the birth of Hans Christian Andersen.

Apart from Cathy Freeman, the following people have been appointed as Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors:

Rock musician Suzanne Vega, actor Harvey Keitel, actress Susan Sarandon, actor Boyd Gaines and Danish-American actress Connie Nielsen as well as jazz pianist McCoy Tyner, the Danish ballet dancer and Artistic Director of the New York City Ballet, Peter Martins, and the soccer legend PelÚ. All the above-mentioned Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors have been appointed by HRH Crown Prince Frederik.

Great respect
Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors are celebrated artists, politicians, journalists, businesspeople and athletes from around the world who are asked by the Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Foundation to represent the celebration of the bicentenary of the birth of Hans Christian Andersen. All nominees are highly acclaimed within their field and have through their work and life earned great respect and influenced the world around them.

Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors are to contribute to creating awareness of the celebration in their home country, for instance with their presence at different events related to Hans Christian Andersen 2005 and by sharing their own view of Hans Christian Andersen with the world.


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