This excerpt from the Network Ten series Australian Dreams (1999) profiles wheelchair racer Louise Sauvage OAM – one of Australia’s most renowned althletes.
Australian Dreams tells the stories of 39 Australian athletes in the lead-up to Sydney hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2000. Other athletes profiled include wheelchair basketballers Troy and Jane Sachs.
The inclusion of the song ‘Born Slippy’ by Underworld (1996) on the soundtrack to this story, along with long dissolves and crash zoom edits and constantly moving camerawork, helps to date the piece to the late 1990s.
Born and bred in Perth, Sauvage won the admiration of Australians – along with 13 medals, 9 of them gold, across Paralympics spanning from Barcelona 1992 to Athens 2004. She has also won 4 Boston Marathons and was named Australian Female Athlete of the Year in 1999.
Sauvage was born with a congenital spinal condition called myelomeningocele which inhibits the function of the lower half of the body. She also has scoliosis. She had more than 20 operations by the time she was 10 years old.
Amongst the honours she has received Sauvage was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2007 and became the first Paralympic sportsperson to be elevated to Legend status in 2019.
She was named Australian Paralympian of the Year in 1994, 1996, 1997 and 1998. Other winners of the award include Priya Cooper (1995), Michael Milton (2002), Siobhan Paton (2000), Tim Sullivan (2004), Matt Cowdrey (2008), Jacqueline Freney (2012) and Dylan Alcott (2016).
A key figure at the triumphant Sydney 2000 Paralympics, Sauvage lit the cauldron during the Games’ opening ceremony.
Notes by Beth Taylor