Paralympics Australia is celebrating after four-time Paralympian Louise Sauvage OAM became the first Paralympian to be elevated to Legend status within the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
The Sport Australia Hall of Fame describes the annual elevation of one Member to Legend status as the most prestigious sporting honour that can be bestowed on an Australian.
Few Australian athletes have captured the heart of the nation like Sauvage, who was the first Paralympian to be inducted as a Member of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2007. She now becomes the 41st Legend of Australian sport.
Representing Australia for the first time at just 16, Sauvage would go on to change the sport of wheelchair racing by becoming one of its first truly professional athletes.
She won nine gold and four silver medals across four Paralympic Games between 1992 and 2004, and 12 world titles. She also made three appearances in demonstration events at the Olympic Games, winning two gold and one bronze medals.
Sauvage also lit the Paralympic cauldron at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games and carried the flag for the Australian Team at the Athens 2004 Opening Ceremony. Countless honours have followed at a national and international level.
“It’s fantastic to be honoured in this way,” Sauvage told the Sport Australian Hall of Fame.
“It should be that Para sport athletes can be seen and considered in the same light and be recognised in the same manner, so to be elevated is just huge. It’s tremendous and to be thought of alongside some of Australia’s great athletes, it’s just amazing company to be alongside them.”
Paralympics Australia President Jock O’Callaghan said the honour is due recognition for Sauvage, who will always be remembered as the trailblazer for lifting the profile and perception of Australian Paralympic sport into the mainstream.
“As one of the most successful Paralympians in our history, whose achievements on the track have been matched by few globally, Louise is the ideal candidate for elevation to Legend status within the Sport Australia Hall of Fame,” O’Callaghan said.
Sauvage, now a highly-successful coach with the Australian Para athletics team, said the Sydney 2000 Games remains the highlight of her career as an athlete.
“I think having the Games in Sydney was a big turning point for the Paralympics in general and it’s gotten bigger and better and progressed from there. The momentum is being carried forward,” Sauvage told the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.