Freeman in battle with ex-fiance

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The Independent Online

The Australian Olympic champion Cathy Freeman is being sued by her ex-fiancé for breach of contract after she sacked him as her manager before the Sydney Olympics.

The Australian Olympic champion Cathy Freeman is being sued by her ex-fiancé for breach of contract after she sacked him as her manager before the Sydney Olympics.

Nick Bideau - who was formerly engaged to the Olympic 400m champion - and Peter Jess, both directors in the Melbourne International Track Club, took legal action against Freeman for dropping their management company in May when their contract did not expire until the end of the year.

Lawyers for the track club lodged the writ in the Victorian Supreme Court on Monday after agreeing to delay their action until after the Olympics to allow Freeman to concentrate on her events and also asked the court to prevent Freeman's new management team from disposing of any joint company assets.

Neither party was available for comment but reports said Bideau - now partner of the Irish Olympic silver medallist Sonia O'Sullivan - was demanding the right to manage Freeman for a further four years.

Freeman's lawyers were reported to be planning to counter-sue. Freeman, now married to the American sportswear executive Sandy Bodecker, became the face of the Sydney Olympics after lighting the cauldron at the opening ceremony and then winning gold in the 400m.

Australia's former pole vault world record holder Emma George is expected to be out of action for at least a year after undergoing extensive surgery on both feet.

George had held the women's indoor and outdoor pole vault records from 1995 until earlier this year but failed to make it past the qualifying rounds at Sydney, and doctors then discovered that she had major stress fractures in both legs. George was operated on immediately after the Olympics and has been confined to a wheelchair since, with both her feet in plaster. She is expected to be out of competition for up to a year but said yesterday that she wanted to make a comeback for the 2004 Athens Games.

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