Sauvage, Louise (1973-)

Sauvage, Louise (1973-)
Also known as
Sauvage, Alix Louise, (OAM) (1973-)
Sauvage, Alix Louise (1973-)
Sauvage, Louise, (OAM) (1973-)
Field of activity
Wheelchair track and road racer; Paralympian; Wheelchair Basketballer; Athlete
Libraries Australia
http://nla.gov.au/anbd.aut-an49787319
NLA Persistent Identifier
https://nla.gov.au/nla.party-715054

Biographies

Alix Louise Sauvage, OAM (born 18 September 1973) is an Australian paralympic wheelchair racer and leading coach. Sauvage is often regarded as the most renowned disabled sportswoman in Australia. She won nine gold and four silver medals at four Paralympic Games and eleven gold and two silver medals at three IPC Athletics World Championships. She has won four Boston Marathons, and held 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. In 2002, her autobiography 'Louise Sauvage: My Story' was published.

View the full record at Australian Paralympic History Project

Louise Sauvage is a professional athlete and Paralympian who dominated the world of wheelchair track and road racing for well over a decade. Over the course of her career, Sauvage won nine Paralympic gold medals, four Boston Marathons, and was four times the winner of the 800m Wheelchair Exhibition Race at the IAAF World Athletic Championships. She holds world records in the 1500m, 5000m and 4x100m and 4x400m relays. Louise Sauvage was Australian Female Athlete of the Year in 1999, and International Female Wheelchair Athlete of the Year in 1999 and 2000.

The daughter of Maurice Sauvage and Rita (née Rigden), Louise Sauvage was christened Alix after her paternal grandmother, but by family tradition has always been known as Louise. Her father, who came from the French- and Creole-speaking island of the Seychelles off the north-east coast of Africa, met her mother, a '£10 pom' who emigrated from Leicestershire, at a dinner dance in Perth, Western Australia. In 1969 they had a daughter, Ann, and four years later, Louise. The two girls were raised in Joondanna, Perth, where Louise attended Tuart Hill Primary School and later, Hollywood Senior High. She left High School after year ten, completing a TAFE course in office and secretarial studies.

Louise Sauvage was born with the congenital spinal condition myelodysplasia. Her condition necessitated no less than 21 operations before she was ten years old. From the age of three she was swimming to strengthen her upper body and attempting to walk with the aid of splints and callipers. In 1976 she was Perth's 'Telethon Child' as part of a Channel 7 fundraiser for children with disabilities. At the age of eight she began to use a wheelchair, greatly increasing her mobility. She took up wheelchair sports and demonstrated natural ability. As a child, Sauvage later recalled, she had 'raced, swum, thrown discuses, shot puts and javelins and played basketball in sport for athletes with a disability'. By 1983 Sauvage, labelled 'The Joondanna Flash' by the local paper, had been selected to compete in the Second National Junior Games for the Disabled. The following year, aged ten, she became the youngest ever athlete to compete in the National Senior Paraplegic and Quadriplegic Games in Sydney. She came home with two silver and three bronze medals. In 1985 she returned from the National Junior Games in Perth with a haul of fifteen medals, including seven gold. In her early teens Sauvage underwent a number of operations to correct curvature of the spine, virtually living at Princess Margaret Hospital in Perth. Two steel rods placed in her spine spelt the end of a swimming career, leaving Sauvage - though she continued to play basketball - to focus on track racing. It was a fateful move.

Not yet seventeen years old, Sauvage was selected to represent Australia at the 1990 IPC World Championships in Athletics in Holland. There she won gold in the 100m, creating a new world record. She also won the 200m 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 100m, 200m, 400m, and two relays. Inspired by the then World No. 1 track racer, the Danish Connie Hansen, Sauvage returned from Holland fuelled by a desire to be the best in the world in her chosen sport. Defying those who said a career as a professional athlete was a mistake for a girl with a disability, she trained hard. The lack of elite competition in Australia in her sport meant that she travelled for four to six months of each year in order to put herself up against the best, but the ordeal of flying was not diminished by its frequency. First on the plane and last off, seated up the back with her chairs and luggage, Sauvage was forced to dehydrate her body before each flight to avoid the difficulty of using aeroplane toilets. Like other athletes, she was living out of hotel rooms away from family and friends, training hard and missing out on a normal social life.

Hitherto funded by her family, Sauvage was awarded a Scholarship from the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in 1990. She began training six days a week with the AIS and the New South Wales Institute/Sydney Academy of Sport. Her training program included at least twelve sessions a week and a 25km-35km push each morning. At the age of eighteen, Sauvage competed at the 1992 Barcelona Paralympic Games where she won three gold medals and one silver (100m, 200m, 400m, 800m). In 1993 Sauvage was awarded the ABC's Junior Female Athlete of the Year Award. That same year she competed for the first time in the Boston Marathon, 'the world's greatest road race' for both able-bodied and wheelchair athletes, attracting 100 wheelchair competitors and 40,000 runners each year. Here Sauvage established a strong and lasting rivalry with the American Jean Driscoll, who won eight of the eleven Marathons in which she competed. Not until 1997 did Sauvage out-do her opponent, beating her again in a spectacular photo finish in 1998 and by a chair's length in 1999. Sauvage won the Marathon for the fourth time in 2001, after Driscoll's retirement.

After a slightly more relaxed year in Melbourne - where she appeared as herself in an episode of the famous Australian television series, Neighbours - Sauvage began training in earnest for the 1996 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in Atlanta. She won gold in her only track race at the Olympic Games, beating rivals Driscoll and Cheri Becerra, and went on to win four more gold medals at the Paralympic Games. Having won the 5000m in world record time, Sauvage was competing in the 400m just one hour later, winning gold again with a Paralympic record of 54.96 seconds. She went on to win gold in the 800m and 1500m.

After her success in Atlanta, Sauvage employed a manager, Karen McBrien, and moved to Sydney where she was coached by Andrew Dawes. In late 1998, with the three other members of the Australian Wheelchair Women's Relay Team, Sauvage took part in the Byron Bay to Bondi fund-raising event for the NSW Wheelchair Sports Association. Together, over 13 days, the girls pushed over 800km. In between her 20-30km stints, Louise had to make a quick visit to Sydney to attend an awards presentation and attend community civic functions and personal sponsor appearances.

The 2000 Sydney Olympic Games were a career highlight. Sauvage carried the Olympic Torch across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and lit the Cauldron to mark the commencement of the 2000 Paralympic Games. In the 800m demonstration race at the Olympics, Sauvage won gold before a home crowd of 110,000 people. She went on to win two gold medals (1500m and 5000m) and one silver medal (800m) at the Paralympics.

Louise Sauvage was voted Australian Paralympian of the Year in 1994, 1996, 1997 and 1998. She was the Australian Institute of Sport Athlete of the Year in 1997, and in 1998 won the ABIGROUP National Sports Award as part of the Young Australian of the Year Awards. In 1997 the Australian Olympic Committee presented her with the International Olympic Committee Trophy 'Sport For All' within Australia, and the following year she was featured in an episode of Australian television's 'This is Your Life'. In 2000 she was awarded the trophy for World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability at the inaugural Laureus Awards hosted by the World Sports Academy.

Louise Sauvage published her autobiography, , in 2002. The book charts the development of a professional athlete whose phenomenal sporting results were once recorded in the 'human interest' rather than sport sections of the media. Sauvage hoped (and still hopes) through her wins to raise the profile of disability sports and to raise awareness about athletes - and indeed all members of society - with a disability. She speaks to schools, community groups, and corporations. Sauvage was selected by the Sydney Paralympic Organising Committee as a Media Ambassador to promote the Games throughout Australia, and in 2000 she established the Louise Sauvage 'Aspire to be a Champion Foundation', administered by the NSW Wheelchair Sports Association. As part of its Sporting Grants program, the Foundation recently awarded a grant to Brett Ogden, a quadriplegic wheelchair track and road racer. In 2005 Louise Sauvage was inducted into the NSW Sports Hall of Champions.

  • Inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women

View the full record at Australian Women's Register

Related people and organisations

Australian Women's Register

Resources for Louise Sauvage

Selected resources (7)

Australian Women's Register

  1. Sauvage, Alix Louise
    Published: National Foundation for Australian Women
    Series: IspartOf The Australian Women's Register
  2. The Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in Twentieth-Century Australia
    Smart, Judith and Swain, Shurlee (eds.)
    [2014]
    Published: Australian Women's Archives Project
  3. From athletes to their mentors - Louise Sauvage thanking Andrew Dawes
    Sauvage, Louise
    [2001]
    Series: IspartOf Sports Coach
  4. Louise Sauvage: My Story
    Sauvage, Louise
    [Sydney]
    Published: HarperSports
  5. Out there with Madonna
    Verghis, Sharon
    [2002]
    Series: IspartOf Sydney Morning Herald
  6. She's Game: Women Making Australian Sporting History
    Australian Women's Archives Project
    [2007]
    Published: Australian Women's Archives Project
  7. Portrait of Louise Sauvage
    [1996]
    Series: National Library of Australia

Resources by Louise Sauvage (3)

  1. Louise Sauvage interviewed by Ian Jobling in the Australian Centre for Paralympic Studies oral history project
    Sauvage, Louise, 1973-
    [ Sound : 2011 ]
    At National Library
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 60,121.586)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 60,121.586)

  2. Louise Sauvage : my story / Louise Sauvage with Ian Heads; foreword by Dawn Fraser
    Sauvage, Louise, 1973-
    [ Book, Audio book : 1900-2004 ]
    Languages: English;Undetermined;lis, [2 others]
    At 68 libraries
    Louise Sauvage : my story / Louise Sauvage with Ian Heads; foreword by Dawn Fraser
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 45,006.277)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 45,006.277)

  3. Secrets of inspiring women exposed! / Dale Beaumont with Emma Lyons & foreword by Louise Sauvage
    Beaumont, Dale
    [ Book : 2007 ]
    At 16 libraries
    Secrets of inspiring women exposed! / Dale Beaumont with Emma Lyons & foreword by Louise Sauvage
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 30,879.689)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 30,879.689)

Resources about Louise Sauvage (8)

  1. [Biographical cuttings on Louise Sauvage, sportswoman, containing one or more cuttings from newspapers or journals]
    [ Published : 1900-1990 ]
    At National Library
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 88,555.578)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 88,555.578)

  2. Louise Sauvage interviewed by Ian Jobling in the Australian Centre for Paralympic Studies oral history project
    Sauvage, Louise, 1973-
    [ Sound : 2011 ]
    At National Library
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 60,965.098)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 60,965.098)

  3. Louise Sauvage : my story / Louise Sauvage with Ian Heads; foreword by Dawn Fraser
    Sauvage, Louise, 1973-
    [ Book, Audio book : 1900-2004 ]
    Languages: English;Undetermined;lis, [2 others]
    At 68 libraries
    Louise Sauvage : my story / Louise Sauvage with Ian Heads; foreword by Dawn Fraser
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 44,794.781)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 44,794.781)

  4. Portrait of Louise Sauvage, 1996 paralympian / Serena Ovens
    Ovens, Serena, 1967-
    [ Photograph : 1996 ]
    Languages: No linguistic content;Zuni, [1 other]
    View online
    At National Library
    Portrait of Louise Sauvage, 1996 paralympian / Serena Ovens
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 42,422.121)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 42,422.121)

  5. Louise Sauvage : world champion, member of Team National
    [ Book : 2000 ]
    At Jessie Street NW Lib
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 36,331.527)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 36,331.527)

  6. Louise Sauvage / Barrie Sheppard
    Sheppard, Barrie, 1939-
    [ Book : 2002 ]
    At 60 libraries
    Louise Sauvage / Barrie Sheppard
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 21,399.646)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 21,399.646)

  7. Susan Geason papers, 1989-2001
    Geason, Susan
    [ Unpublished : 1989-2001 ]
    At State Library of NSW
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 19,609.928)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 19,609.928)

  8. A-Z of Australian sports stars. Nicolas Brasch
    Brasch, Nicolas, 1961-
    [ Book : 1998 ]
    At 64 libraries
    A-Z of Australian sports stars. Nicolas Brasch
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 8,487.164)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 8,487.164)

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  1. Athletics Australia (1897-)
    ... Sauvage, Alix Louise (1973 - ) ... Currey, Louise (1969 - ) ...
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 26.147)

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  2. Olympic Games Gold Medallists (1912-)
    ... Sauvage, Alix Louise (1973 - ) ... Hankin, Simone (1973 - ) ...
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 20.505)

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  3. Paralympic Games Athletes
    ... Sauvage, Alix Louise (1973 - ) ...
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  1. Sauvage sets 800m world record
    The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995) Saturday 30 July 1994 p 58 Article
    ... Sauvaee sets 800m world record - o SYDNEY: Western Australian wheelchair athlete Louise Sauvage set ... . Sauvage won her heat by 60m in a time of 1m 51.82sec. She said she felt good during the race and was ... 121 words
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 4,435.842)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 4,435.842)

  2. Sauvage takes a gold under 30sec PARALYMPICS
    The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995) Friday 11 September 1992 p 26 Article
    ... Sauvage takes a gold under 30sec PARALYMPICS BARCELONA: Perth wheel chair athlete Louise Sauvage be ... for 19-year-old Sauvage, who was tipped out of the 800m gold by the Dane on Monday. "You get such a ... 410 words
    • Text last corrected on 14 September 2019 by JaneM1951
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 3,569.849)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 3,569.849)

  3. The Life of Melbourne ENGAGEMENTS.. ART SHOW:. TRA VILLERS.. DANCES
    The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) Wednesday 26 January 1949 p 8 Article Illustrated
    ... on March 15. It will celebrate the coming out of Louise Landale; the re-turn from England of her ... from Hobart on February 17. MR ROBERT SAUVAGE with his bride, Dorothy Lloyd, who were married at the ... 910 words
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 1,265.604)

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  1. Sport and Australian Culture: Paralympic Games
    Sport and Australian Culture: Paralympic Games
    Created by TroveforEducation, 25 items.

    A companion list for the National Library’s Sport and Australian Culture Digital Classroom.

    This resource may have relevance to your query (score: 0.031)

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  1. APPOINTMENTS, RETIREMENTS AND DISMISSALS
    Commonwealth of Australia Gazette (National : 1901 - 1973) Thursday 25 November 1971 [Issue No.111] p 7254

    Government Gazette Appointments And Employment

    ... (Radio)—Douglas Claude Baker. Typist—Jillian Louise Probst, Daniela Aurora Zeroni. Bureau of Meteorology ... Wagstaff. DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY Central Staff Clerk—Roger Graham LeSauvage, Trevor Keith Parry. New South ... 2271 words
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 14.553)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 14.553)

  2. VETERANS' AFFAIRS
    Commonwealth of Australia Gazette. Periodic (National : 1977 - 2011) Friday 18 March 1983 p 74

    Government Gazette Appointments And Employment

    ... , Lesley Patrtcia Fesler, Mary Runku Fong, Angela Siu Lan Franco, Ltvia Teresa Frawley, Michelle Louise ... -02286 348-397t>0 344-09883 500-29717 346-07249 344-06770 Ashburner, Barbara Beattie, Deborah Louise Berry ... 3776 words
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 10.581)

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  3. WESTERN AUSTRALIA
    Commonwealth of Australia Gazette. Periodic (National : 1977 - 2011) Friday 31 August 1979 p 67

    Government Gazette Notices

    ... , Emily Louise, 21 Johnstone St, Mt Helena, 28.3.79; Littlebury, Shelia, 14 Hamlet Crt 51 Shakespearse Av ... , Mary Louise, 33 Glover St, Dianella 6062, 29.1.79; Maindok, Kann-Ute Thekla, 18 Bideford St, Warnbro Wa ... 14113 words
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 7.387)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 7.387)

  1. Louise Sauvage : my story / by Louise Sauvage with Ian Heads ; foreword by Dawn Fraser
    Sauvage, Louise
    [ Sound, Audio book : 2002-2003 ]
    At 2 libraries
    Louise Sauvage : my story / by Louise Sauvage with Ian Heads ; foreword by Dawn Fraser
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 319.176)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 319.176)

  2. Wheels on Fire
    Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Radio National
    [ Sound : 2002 ]
    View online
    At ABC Radio National
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 133.911)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 133.911)

  3. Lest We Forget - Sport and War
    Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Radio National
    [ Sound : 2002 ]
    View online
    At ABC Radio National
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 71.053)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 71.053)

  4. This is your life : inspirational women
    Nine Films and Television
    [ Video : 2004 ]
    At 4 libraries
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 42.459)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 42.459)

Diaries, letters, archives

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  1. Louise Sauvage : portrait sitter file
    Sauvage, Louise
    [ Book ]
    At Nat Portrait Gall
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 1,261.442)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 1,261.442)

  2. Louise Sauvage : my story / by Louise Sauvage with Ian Heads ; foreword by Dawn Fraser
    Sauvage, Louise
    [ Sound, Audio book : 2002-2003 ]
    At 2 libraries
    Louise Sauvage : my story / by Louise Sauvage with Ian Heads ; foreword by Dawn Fraser
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 1,044.903)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 1,044.903)

  3. Ferry safety investigation report : collision of the Louise Sauvage : Rose Bay Wharf, Circular Quay : 12 May 2004
    New South Wales. Office of Transport Safety Investigations
    [ Government publication, Archived website : 2005 ]
    View online
    At 3 libraries
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 474.792)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 474.792)

  4. Le lutin sauvage
    Vilmorin, Luise de, 1902-1969
    [ Book : 1971 ]
    Languages: French
    Read online at Open Library/Internet Archive
    View online
    At 2 libraries
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 357.403)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 357.403)

  1. Coach profile - Louise Sauvage, elite wheelchair track and field coach
    Phillips, Sharon
    Sports Coach
    [ Article : 2007 ]
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 479.141)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 479.141)

  2. Sauvage narrowly.(SPORT)
    The Australian (National, Australia)
    [ Article : 1998 ]
    View online (conditions apply)
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 346.941)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 346.941)

  3. Sauvage in NY marathon.(Sport)
    The Age (Melbourne, Australia)
    [ Article : 2013 ]
    View online (conditions apply)
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 322.253)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 322.253)

  4. Sauvage claims treble.(SPORT)
    The Australian (National, Australia)
    [ Article : 1997 ]
    View online (conditions apply)
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 309.983)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 309.983)