Inductee number 32, Noel Freeman began race walking in 1955 at age sixteen. Joining Footscray Harriers, he showed great talent immediately and as an intense trainer, it was appropriate Percy Cerutty should guide him.
After narrowly missing selection for Melbourne in 1956, at 17, Noel maintained his sights on the 1960 Games in Rome where he wanted to double. He gave the selectors little opportunity to leave him out, winning both trials.
In Rome, Noel went to the front in the 20km and led for the first 5km but by halfway Vladimir Golubnichiy led him by 23 seconds. By 15km the margin was 69 seconds. Noel came back strongly but could not quite catch the leader finishing just nine seconds adrift for silver. He was disqualified in the 50km after leading early.
After a clash with the then AAU about his attendance at a pre-Games camp that gained considerable media attention, Noel went to his second Olympics in Tokyo, finishing fourth in the 20km event.
Injury worries and a failed appeal meant that he missed selection for his third Olympics in Mexico but was chosen for the 1970 Commonwealth Games 20 mile event in which he prevailed in the race for gold by over two minutes.
By the end of his career Noel had won Olympic silver, Commonwealth gold and 9 national titles and set many world, commonwealth, national and state track records and road bests.
"I want to thank Athletics Australia for considering an old bloke like me, it is such an honour and I am truly humbled," Freeman said.
"I hope that those currently enjoying success in our sport stick with it because it is a truly wonderful sport and it has been a fantastic part of my life. There are so many people to thank for getting me to be the athlete I was, and I couldn't be happier with this award. It's fantastic."