The West

Sauvage in hall of fame
Louise Sauvage wins the wheelchair division of the 105th Boston Marathon in 2001. Picture: Jim Bourg/Reuters

Louise Sauvage may have retired from competition but the recognition keeps coming for Australia's most renowned disabled sports- woman with her induction into the International Paralympics Committee's Hall of Fame.

Fellow Perth Paralympics legend, the late Frank Ponta, was also inducted.

The announcements came on the eve of the opening ceremony for the Paralympics in London where Sauvage, 38, is a coach of the Australian team.

Her mother Rita Sauvage is in London for the Paralympics and the induction ceremony tonight, WA time.

"We're all thrilled to bits because it's quite an honour," Mrs Sauvage said yesterday. She said the Paralympics were front-page news in British newspapers. "They're really promoting it well," she said.

In Perth, Louise's sister Ann said the whole family was excited by the news. "This is a pinnacle for her, being inducted into the international hall of fame," she said. "We're all very excited and proud."

Meanwhile, Louise Sauvage was at the warm-up track preparing her athletes. One is WA's only athletics competitor, Madison de Rozario.

The Paralympics international hall of fame was established in 2006 with Sauvage and Ponta two of only five new inductees.

Ponta, who died in June last year, was a five-time Paralympian who participated in the inaugural 1960 Paralympics in Rome where he won gold in backstroke. He also won silver and bronze medals in decathlon and table tennis and became a coach after his retirement.

He was one of Sauvage's early coaches when she took up the sport of wheelchair racing.

The duo were inducted into the Australian Paralympics Hall of Fame 12 months ago.

Sauvage also was inducted into the Australian Sport Hall of Fame in 2007 - the first athlete with a disability to be inducted. She was born with the spinal condition myelodysplasia and in 1976, aged three, was chosen as the face of WA's Telethon.

After early success as a swimmer, she took up wheelchair racing as a 15-year-old. A year later, she broke the world record for the 100m in her first international competition.

In a 15-year career, she won 13 Paralympic medals, including nine golds, at four Games as well as numerous medals at Commonwealth Games, world championships and a host of wheelchair marathons.

Sauvage retired after the 2004 Athens Games. She moved to Sydney in 1999 and is a wheelchair racing coach at the NSW Institute of Sport.

The West Australian

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