OLYMPIC gold medallist Cathy Freeman has encouraged Central Queensland's rising crop of athletes to create their own "team".
Freeman was in Rockhampton on Saturday as a guest at the AusCare Pharmacy Diabetes Expo hosted by Emmaus College.
A type-2 diabetic, Freeman visited the Beef Capital to create awareness for diabetes as a Diabetes Care ambassador.
Originally from Mackay, Freeman won gold in the 400m final at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and she believed she couldn't have done it alone. She encouraged youngsters to surround themselves with the right people.
"It's important for them (young athletes) to have conversations with their coaches, or their mentors, or with those folks who you consider to be part of your support team, she said. "Whether they are school teachers, coaches or someone you can sense that is interested in helping you get to the point where you can reach your goal."
Rockhampton sprinter Kelsey Mann and shot putter Robert Taylor were crowned Queensland secondary school champions last month, an achievement Freeman said wasn't a surprise for the region.
"Sport is such a big part of the culture here in Central Queensland," she said.
Freeman encouraged children to take up sport for its health and community benefits. "Sport helps young people overcome all sorts of health issues and it generally makes families and communities happier," she said.