Louise Sauvage

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Louise Sauvage
61 ACPS Atlanta 1996 Track Louise Sauvage.jpg
Personal information
Full name Alix Louise Sauvage
Nationality  Australia
Born (1973-09-18) 18 September 1973 (age 40)
Perth, Western Australia

Alix Louise Sauvage, OAM (born 18 September 1973)[1] is an Australian paralympic wheelchair racer.[2]

Sauvage is often regarded as the most renowned disabled sportswoman in Australia.[3][4] She won two gold medals and a silver medal at the 2000 Sydney Paralympic games in front of a home crowd. At the 2004 Olympic Games, she finished 3rd in the demonstration sport of Women's 1500 m wheelchair. She participated in the 2004 Summer Paralympics, where she took silver in both the 400 metre and 800 metre races. She has won four Boston Marathons, and holds world records in the 1500  m, 5000  m and 4x100  m and 4x400  m relays. She was Australian Female Athlete of the Year in 1999, and International Female Wheelchair Athlete of the Year in 1999 and 2000.

Early life[edit]

When I first started off I was in the human interest pages of the paper – the fact that I did a sport and the article was about my sport didn't matter – I had a disability and it was warm and fuzzy. It wasn't until I made it to where everyone else was, in the sports pages, where any elite athlete deserves to be, that I thought, 'OK they're taking me seriously now, this is good'.

Louise Sauvage[5]

Sauvage, whose father is from the Seychelles and mother is from Leicestershire, was born with a severe congenital spinal condition called myelomeningocele,[6] which inhibits the function of the lower half of the body, giving limited control over the legs. In 1976 she was Perth's Telethon Child as part of a Channel 7 fund-raiser for children with disabilities.[7] She used calipers to help walk until she received her first wheelchair.[8] Her myelomeningocele required her to have 21 surgical operations by the time she was ten years old.[5] As a preteen, Sauvage suffered scoliosis,[9] and at 14, she had surgery to fix a curvature in her spine,[9][10] using steel rods.[10] The operation was only partially successful, and as an adult, she still has a curve of roughly 49 degrees.[9] She has not had any subsequent surgery to fix the curve in her spine.[9]

Sauvage was born in Perth, Western Australia and grew up in Joondanna, Western Australia, where she attended Hollywood Senior High School before leaving to complete a TAFE course in office and secretarial studies.[7] Her parents encouraged her to participate in sport from a very young age.[6] She started swimming when she was three years old, with her parents enrolling her in swimming classes to help her build upper body strength.[10] Sauvage started to compete in wheelchair sport at the age of eight. Before that time, she had attempted to play school sport with her class mates but her disability made it difficult.[5] She took up competitive wheelchair racing when she was 15.[10] Sauvage also tried wheelchair basketball as a youngster.[9]

Competitive athletic career[edit]

Action shot of Sauvage on her way to winning silver in the 800 m T54 wheelchair race at the 2000 Summer Paralympics
A racing wheelchair in a glass display case amongst other Paralympic paraphernalia.
Louise Sauvage's wheelchair from the 1996 Paralympic Games
Sauvage lights the Paralympic flame at the 2000 Summer Paralympics
Sauvage shown waving to the crowd whilst on the medal podium at the 2000 Summer Paralympics

If I had to pick my greatest moment, it would be winning the demonstration event at the 2000 Games and coming back later that evening and having my medal presented to me by Juan Antonio Samaranch, who was head of the IOC. I was on the dais in the No.1 position, and the flag was being raised and the anthem was being played because you're No.1. You have got 110,000 people singing the anthem with you, it's just unbelievable. There was no time to be emotional, I just couldn't stop smiling, it was just awesome.

Louise Sauvage[5]

From the ages of 10 to 13, Sauvage represented Western Australia in the national swim championships. She was forced to retire from swimming when she turned 14, because of surgery.[10]

When Louise first started competing in wheelchair racing, the chairs all had four wheels and were similar to the chairs that they used off the track. The chairs did not have any form of steering. The front wheels were smaller than the back wheels, and when at high speed, they were prone to wobbling. By 1997, racing wheelchairs had basically finished undergoing massive changes to improve them.[11]

In 1990, she competed in her first international competition, the IPC Athletics World Championships in Athletics in Assen, Holland, where she won gold in the 100 m setting a new world record. She also won the 200 m race but was disqualified for moving out of her lane. At the Stoke Mandeville Games in England the same year, Sauvage took gold in the 100 m, 200 m, 400  m, and two relays.[12]

In 1992, she represented Australia at the Barcelona Paralympic Games, where she won two golds in the 200 m and 400 m and a silver in the 800 m. In recognition of her athletic feats she was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia.[2][13] Sauvage was in danger of not going to the 1992 Paralympics because of funding issues for the Australian Paralympic Federation. The Federation made an emergency appeal for funding from the public in order to cover the cost of transporting the Australian team to Barcelona. The Federation found funding through a variety of small donations that allowed Sauvage and other Australian athletes to compete.[14]

Before the start of the 1992 Summer Paralympics, Sauvage held Australian records for the 100  m, 200  m, 800  m, 1500  m and marathon in women's wheelchair racing events. She was being marketed by the Australian Paralympic Federation as Australia's top female wheelchair road racer.[15]

1993 was her first year on the international wheelchair racing circuit, competing in the US and Europe.[16] It was also the year that she got her first kneeling wheelchair.[11] The pinnacle being the world-famous Boston Marathon where she recorded her first victory, in the women's wheelchair division, in 1997, breaking the stranglehold of the 'Queen of Boston', US racer Jean Driscoll. Sauvage went on to win a further three Boston titles in 1998, 1999 and 2001.[4][16][17] She has won the Los Angeles Marathon, Honolulu Marathon and Berlin Marathon.[18]

Australian athlete Louise Sauvage races at the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games

From 1993 to 2000, Sauvage won every IAAF wheelchair demonstration event. In that same period, she also won the demonstration events for wheelchair racing in the 800 meter race at the Olympic games.[19] The 800 meter event does not require that athletes stay in their lanes after the first turn. For this reason, athletes like Sauvage are required to wear helmets when racing. In 2000, Sauvage won the Olympic demonstration event and was expected to win the Paralympic gold. She was upset by Canadian Chantal Petitclerc.[19] The Australian delegation appealed the result, claiming the race was not fair because another racer, Ireland's Patrice Dockery, was disqualified for leaving her lane too early. The appeal was rejected, because Dockery was too far behind the front runners to impact the results. Sport academics who research the Paralympic Games consider this protest to be pivotal, because it shows the passion of athletes to win and the extent that sports people will go to claim gold. It also highlighted that the rivalries in the sport were real. Petitclerc said of her rivalry with Sauvage that "I dream more about Louise than I do my boyfriend." In 2002, Petitclerc beat Sauvage again at the 2002 Commonwealth Games, where the 800 meter event was a full medal event at the games for the first time. It was only the second time that Sauvage had lost to Petitclerc.[20]

Sauvage won gold medals at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in 1993, 1995, 1997 and 2001.[21]

In 1995, Sauvage won the Gasparilla 15 km road race. The event was held in Florida. That same year, she came in second at the Los Angeles Marathon and second at the Lilac Bloomsday 12k. At the Boston Marathon, Sauvage suffered a tire puncture. She finished fourth.[22]

In January 1996, Sauvage won the women's wheelchair event at the OzDay 10k International Road Race, an event that is staged in Sydney's Rocks District.[23]

In February 1996, Sauvage won the women's wheelchair event at the Gasparilla 15k Road Race, held in Tampa, Florida.[23]

In 1996, Sauvage won the Beppu-Ōita Marathon. In 1997, she won the Summer Down Under race in Sydney, the International Wheelchair Road & Track Series sprint, distance and overall categories, the Newcastle Bicentennial 15K Road Road Race in Newcastle, the Waitangi Day Road Race in New Zealand, the Los Angeles Marathon, the Boston Marathon, the Atrium Classic race in Darwin, the Piedmont 10 Mile Criterium race in the United States, the Americas Series, USA/Canda, the Peachtree 10K in the United States, the IAAF World Athletics Championships in the 800  m event in Athens, the World 10K Championship Race in the United States, and the Berlin Marathon in Germany.[24]

Sauvage qualified for the 1996 Summer Paralympics in June in the exhibition wheelchair track events in the 800  ms.[23]

I think I was just so pumped up from the 5000  m, and warm enough, and hearing the anthem for Dave Evans [who had just won the men's 1500  m event] – that was fantastic to hear that in the background.

Louise Sauvage[25]

In 1996, Sauvage won the 400  m, 800  m, 1500  m and 5000  m events at the 1996 Summer Paralympics. She won these while having an injured wrist. She set world records in the 1500  m and 5000  m events during these games.[3] Sauvage won the 5000  m and the 400  m golds only an hour apart.[25]

At the 2000 Summer Paralympics in Sydney, she lit the cauldron during the opening ceremonies for the games.[4] In 2004, Sauvage carried the Australian flag into the stadium at the 2004 Summer Paralympics.[26]

Days Year Event Location Distance Finish Time Record Ref
14–25 July 1990 IPC World Championships in Athletics Assen, Holland 100  m First World [12]
1990 Stoke Mandeville World Wheelchair Games Aylesbury, United Kingdom 100  m First World [12]
1991 Stoke Mandeville World Wheelchair Games Aylesbury, United Kingdom 100  m First World [12]
1991 Stoke Mandeville World Wheelchair Games Aylesbury, United Kingdom 200  m Third [12]
25-Jan 1991 Oz Day 10K Sydney, Australia 10 km First Junior Woman Australian [12]
1991 10th International Bloemen Marathon Bloemen, Holland 8-day stage race Third (team) [12]
January 1992 VicHealth International Track Meet Melbourne, Victoria 400  m (demo) First [12]
April 1992 National Wheelchair Games Adelaide, South Australia 100  m First Australian [12]
April 1992 National Wheelchair Games Adelaide, South Australia 200  m First Australian [12]
April 1992 National Wheelchair Games Adelaide, South Australia 400  m First Australian [12]
April 1992 National Wheelchair Games Adelaide, South Australia 800  m First Australian [12]
August 1992 Swiss National Championships Zug, Switzerland 100  m First 16.75 World [12]
August 1992 Swiss National Championships Zug, Switzerland 200  m First [12]
August 1992 Swiss National Championships Zug, Switzerland 400  m First [12]
August 1992 Swiss National Championships Zug, Switzerland 800  m First [12]
3–14 September 1992 Paralympic Games Barcelona, Spain 100  m First 17.37 Paralympic [12]
3–14 September 1992 Paralympic Games Barcelona, Spain 200  m First 29.03 World [12]
3–14 September 1992 Paralympic Games Barcelona, Spain 400  m First 56.71 Australian [12]
3–14 September 1992 Paralympic Games Barcelona, Spain 800  m Second 01:54.9 Australian [12]
26-Jan 1992 Oz Day 10K Sydney, Australia 10 km First Junior Woman Australian [12]
April 1992 Australian Marathon Championships Adelaide, South Australia 42 km First Open Woman Australian [12]
3–14 September 1992 Paralympic Games Barcelona, Spain 42 km 6th Open Woman Australian [12]
23-Jan 1993 New South Wales Sugar Games Sydney, Australia 800  m (demo) First 02:05.8 Australian [12]
29-Jan 1993 VicHealth International Track Meet Melbourne, Victoria 200  m First 30.7 Australian [12]
29-Jan 1993 VicHealth International Track Meet Melbourne, Victoria 1500  m First 03:40.7 Australian [12]
7-Feb 1993 Athletics Australia Grand Prix Meet Perth, Western Australia 100  m First Woman 17.2 Australian [12]
7-Feb 1993 Athletics Australia Grand Prix Meet Perth, Western Australia 1500  m First Woman 03:38.7 Australian [12]
3–4 April 1993 Athletics Australia 1st National Disabled Track and Field Championships Canberra, Australia 100  m First 17.23 Australian [12]
3–4 April 1993 Athletics Australia 1st National Disabled Track and Field Championships Canberra, Australia 200  m First 07:12.0 Australian [12]
3–4 April 1993 Athletics Australia 1st National Disabled Track and Field Championships Canberra, Australia 400  m First 55.77 Australian [12]
3–4 April 1993 Athletics Australia 1st National Disabled Track and Field Championships Canberra, Australia 800  m First 01:55.3 Australian [12]
3–4 April 1993 Athletics Australia 1st National Disabled Track and Field Championships Canberra, Australia 1500  m First 03:40.5 [12]
3–4 April 1993 Athletics Australia 1st National Disabled Track and Field Championships Canberra, Australia 5000  m First 12:56.0 Australian [12]
25–26 June 1993 Metro Toronto International Wheelchair Challenge Toronto, Ontario 200  m First 16:48.0 [12]
25–26 June 1993 Metro Toronto International Wheelchair Challenge Toronto, Ontario 400  m First 50:24.0 [12]
25–26 June 1993 Metro Toronto International Wheelchair Challenge Toronto, Ontario 800  m First 01:54.4 Australian [12]
25–26 June 1993 Metro Toronto International Wheelchair Challenge Toronto, Ontario 1500  m First 03:53.0 [12]
25–26 June 1993 Metro Toronto International Wheelchair Challenge Toronto, Ontario 5000  m First 13:20.8 [12]
20-Aug 1993 IAAF World Championships Stuttgart, Germany 800  m (demo) First 01:54.4 Australian [12]
26-Jan 1993 Oz Day 10K Sydney, Australia 10 km First Open Woman 25:22.0 Australian [12]
27-Feb 1993 Gasparilla 15k Tampa, Florida 15 km First Open Woman 39:46.0 Australian [12]
7-Mar 1993 Los Angeles Marathon Los Angeles, California 42 km 4th Open Woman 01:52.3 [12]
14-Mar 1993 Mobil 10K Torrance, California 10 km First Open Woman [12]
21-Mar 1993 Round the Bays Auckland, New Zealand 8.8 km First Open Woman 19:05.0 Australian [12]
19-Apr 1993 Boston Marathon Boston, United States 42 km Third Open Woman 01:39.3 Australian [12]
25-Apr 1993 Toyota of Orange 10K Orange County, California 10 km First Open Woman 23:48.0 Australian [12]
2-May 1993 Lilac Bloomsday 12K Spokane, Washington 12 km Second Open Woman 34:28.0 Australian [12]
6-Jun 1993 Melbourne Marathon Melbourne, Victoria 42 km First Open Woman 02:03.6 [12]
4-Jul 1993 Peachtree 10K Atlanta, Georgia 10 km First Open Woman 24:12.0 [12]
10-Jul 1993 Kaiser Roll 10K Minneapolis, Minnesota 10 km First Open Woman 24:45.5 [12]
31 July – 7 August 1993 Blomen Marathon Bloemen, Holland 8-day stage race First Woman Overall [12]
21-Nov 1993 Olympic Dream 10K Melbourne, Victoria 10 km First Open Woman [12]

Training[edit]

Wheel chair race
Australian T53 wheelchair athlete Louise Sauvage competes in the marathon at the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games

Sauvage would train 10 to 14 hours a week, when she was actively competing. Her training was very focused, and she attempted to make it fun to help her maintain interest.[21] She often trained six days a week. Her training included boxing, swimming and racing between 25 to 35 km in a single session.[18]

Frank Ponta was one of Sauvage's coaches during her competitive career.[27]

Coaching career[edit]

After her retirement from competition, she became involved in coaching young wheelchair athletes,[16] establishing a foundation to help support children with disabilities in 2001.[17] In 2004, Sauvage started coaching other wheelchair athletes. The first athlete that she coached was Angie Ballard. Sauvage's coaching helped Ballard win gold 400  m and silver in the 100  m, 200  m, 800  m and 1500  m at the Summer Down Under Series in 2005.[5]

Sauvage has attended several international competitions as a coach. She was an athletics coach with the Australian team 2008 Beijing Games [28] and 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships. She is currently Wheelchair Track & Road Elite Development Coach at the New South Wales Institute of Sport.

Retirement[edit]

During her retirement from being an athlete, Sauvage created a consulting company that she works for.[6] In 2010, Sauvage was a speaker at the IPC Women in Sport Summit. She spoke alongside Amy Winters and Jayme Paris.[29]

In February 2011, Sauvage participated in the Charter Hall Malabar Magic Ocean Swim. The event was created to raise funds for Rainbow Club. It was Sauvage's first ocean swim. She finished the 1 km race in 25:19.[10]

In 2011, as part of the Australian Centre for Paralympic Studies oral history project of the National Library of Australia, Ian Jobling conducted an extensive interview with Sauvage.[30]

Disability rights[edit]

Sauvage and Paul Nunnar lobbied Virgin Blue during 2006 to drop a requirement that people in wheelchairs be accompanied by a carer if they wish to ride on a Virgin Blue aircraft. Previously, both athletes had tried to lobby Qantas to lift a limit of only two electric wheelchairs on domestic flights flying on Boeing 737s. The pair were ineffective because the change would have required a change in law, not in airline policy. Sauvage and Nunnar did receive an invitation to help train Qantas staff and help make staff more aware of the needs of the disabled.[5]

Recognition[edit]

Sport is my life. I have made a career out of it – I am a professional athlete. Living in Australia we are all very sport minded and I cannot see a life without it.

Louise Sauvage[21]

Sauvage was the Australian Paralympian of the Year in 1994, 1996, 1997 and 1998.[21] She was also the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) Athlete of the year in 1997 and in 2001 inducted into the AIS 'Best of the Best'.[31] In 1998, she was a winner of the Australian of the Year Awards in the ABIGGRIUOP National Sports Award category.[21] In 2000, Sauvage was named the Female Athlete of the Year in the Sport Australia Awards.[3] In 2000, She was named the "World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability" at the first Laureus Sports Awards held in Monte Carlo.[4] In 1999 and 2000, she was named the International Female Athlete of the Year.[21] She received an Australian Sports Medal in 2000.[32]

A Sydney Harbour Supercat (Catamaran) was named in her honour in 2001.[17] The Louise Sauvage Pathway, a 6.3-kilometre (3.9 mi) wheelchair-accessible bicycle and walking path within Sydney Olympic Park, is also named in her honour.[33] Sauvage and New South Wales Treasurer Michael Egan christened the park on 6 March 2003.[34] She was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2007.[35] In 2011, she was one of the first people to be inducted into the Australian Paralympian Hall of Fame, along with Frank Ponta and George Bedbrook.[36] In 2012, she was inducted into the International Paralympian Hall of Fame.[37]

Several Paralympians cite Sauvage as inspiring them to become athletes, including wheelchair racer Kurt Fearnley.[38]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Louise Sauvage OAM". New South Wales Institute of Sport. Retrieved 17 July 2011. 
  2. ^ a b DePauw, Karen P.; Gavron, Susan J. (2005). Disability Sport (Second ed.). Lower Mitcham, Australia: Human Kinetics. p. 93. ISBN 0-7360-4638-0. 
  3. ^ a b c International Olympic Committee; Australia. Office of the Status of Women; Australian Sports Commission; Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles; Interactive Arts (1998). Australian women in the Olympic Games : an Olympic journey : the story of women in the Olympic Games. Belconnen, Australian Capital Territory: Australian Sports Commission. p. 4B. OCLC 223055343. 
  4. ^ a b c d Sydney Paralympic Organising Committee (20 October 2000). "Louise Sauvage". Paralympic Village Newspaper (Sydney, New South Wales: Sydney Paralympic Organising Committee) (10): 5. OCLC 223078790. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Eales, John. "Interview by John Eales: Louise Sauvage". The Age, 15 December 2006: 7.
  6. ^ a b c DePauw, Karen P.; Gavron, Susan J. (2005). Disability Sport (Second ed.). Lower Mitcham, Australia: Human Kinetics. p. 94. ISBN 0-7360-4638-0. 
  7. ^ a b Biography at She's Game, Women making Australian sporting history
  8. ^ Hutchinson, G. (2002). The best Australian sports writing, 2002. Melbourne, Vic: Black Inc. p.64.
  9. ^ a b c d e Hutchinson, G. (2002). The best Australian sports writing, 2002. Melbourne, Vic: Black Inc. p.65.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Julie, Robotham. "Sauvage savours her Magic moment." The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 February 2011: 5.
  11. ^ a b Hutchinson, G. (2002). The best Australian sports writing, 2002. Melbourne, Vic: Black Inc. p.67.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba Sauvage, Louise, and Ian Heads. Louise Sauvage: My Story. Pymble, N.S.W: HarperCollins, 2002. Print.
  13. ^ "Sauvage, Alix Louise, OAM". It's an Honour. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  14. ^ Australian Paralympic Federation (1992). Barcelona Paralympics 1992 : Australian team members profile handbook. Gelbe, New South Wales: Australian Paralympic Federation. OCLC 221512981. 
  15. ^ a b c Louise Sauvage steering WA's Madison de Rozario to Paralympic gold
  16. ^ a b c O'Brien, Jim (2002). "Chief Executive Officer summary". Wheelchair Sports Australia Annual Report 2001-2002 (Canberra, Australia: Wheelchair Sports Australia): 7. 
  17. ^ a b Lifestyle choices: A positive approach to healthy living – self-management, diet, exercise. (2005). Balcatta, W. A: R. I. C. Publications.
  18. ^ a b Howe, P. David (2008). "Athlete as anthropologist, anthropologist as athlete". The Cultural Politics of the Paralympic Movement. New York: Routledge. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-415-28886-6. OCLC 156891922. 
  19. ^ Howe, P. David (2008). "Athlete as anthropologist, anthropologist as athlete". The Cultural Politics of the Paralympic Movement. New York: Routledge. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-415-28886-6. OCLC 156891922. 
  20. ^ a b c d e f DePauw, Karen P; Gavron, Susan J (2005). Disability sport. Champaign, Illinois: Human Kinetics. ISBN 0-7360-4638-0. OCLC 607367259. 
  21. ^ "Wheelchair Road". Paralympian (Australian Paralympic Federation): 3. Winter 1995. 
  22. ^ a b c Australian Paralympic Federation (1996). "1996 – Highlights of the Year in Review". Annual Report (Sydney, New South Wales: Australian Paralympic Federation): 8. 
  23. ^ Australian Paralympic Committee (1999). "Paralympian of the Year". Annual Report (Sydney, New South Wales: Australian Paralympic Committee): 14. 
  24. ^ a b Australian Paralympic Federation (1996). "Success for Superteam". Golden days of Atlanta : Xth Paralympic Games Atlanta, Georgia, August 15–25, 1996 (Sydney): 6. OCLC 222120061. 
  25. ^ FREYA, GRANT. "Louise will lead Paralympic team in opening ceremony – Sauvage to fly flag for Australia – Paralympics 2004 – 2 days to go". The Daily Telegraph (n.d.).
  26. ^ "Paralympian dies". Herald Sun. 3 June 2011. p. 87. 
  27. ^ Media Guide – Beijing 2008. Sydney: Australian Paralympic Committee. 2008. 
  28. ^ Annual Report – Australian Paralympic Committee (2008/2009 ed.) (Sydney: Australian Paralympic Committee): 21. 2009. 
  29. ^ "Louise Sauvage interviewed by Ian Jobling in the Australian Centre for Paralympic Studies oral history project". National Library of Australia. Retrieved 12 February 2012. 
  30. ^ Australian Institute of Sport 'Best of the Best'
  31. ^ "Sauvage, Louise: Australian Sports Medal". It's an Honour. Retrieved 10 January 2012. 
  32. ^ Playing for keeps (8 March 2003)
  33. ^ N.A. "NSW: Louise Sauvage helps Egan launch pathway". AAP General News (n.d.).
  34. ^ "Louise Sauvage OAM". Sport Australia Hall of Fame. Retrieved 21 December 2013. 
  35. ^ "Australian Paralympic Hall of Fame". Australian Paralympic Committee. Retrieved 8 February 2012. 
  36. ^ "IPC Announces Visa Paralympic Hall of Fame Inductees". Retrieved 30 August 2012. 
  37. ^ Habashy, Angela (17 April 2011). "Fearnley's high hopes for Boston debut". Sunday Telegraph. p. 065. 

External links[edit]