Louise Sauvage

Honorary Doctor of Letters

Citation delivered by professor Patricia M. Davidson, vice-chancellor and president at the University of Wollongong on the occasion of the admission of Louise Sauvage as a doctor of letters (honoris causa) on 17 April 2024.

Chancellor, it is my pleasure to present Louise Sauvage OAM for the conferral of the degree of Doctor of Letters (honoris causa), in recognition of her exceptional outstanding achievements and contributions to the world of sports and disability advocacy. As one of Australia’s most renowned Paralympic athletes, Louise has left a lasting mark on the world of wheelchair racing. Participating in her first World Para Athletics Championships at just 16, Louise is recognised not just for an extraordinarily successful career as a wheelchair racer but for her pioneering efforts in raising the profile and perception of Paralympic athletes and sport in Australia and around the world. For more than a decade, Louise’s career saw her claim multiple medals at Paralympics Games, World Para Athletics Championships, IAAF World Athletics Championships, Olympic and Commonwealth games. She recorded victories in some of the world’s most prestigious road races including the Los Angeles, Boston and Berlin Marathons. Louise held world records across all distances from the 100m to the 5000m throughout her career. Beyond her athletic prowess, Louise has been Patron of Wheelchair Sports NSW/ACT for more than 20 years and an Ambassador of the Rainbow Club. She has also established the ‘Aspire to be a Champion Foundation’ to support athletes with disabilities. Louise is committed to supporting grassroots organisations and knows firsthand that these provide the catalyst for such great things for members of the community with disabilities. Louise has used her public profile to raise awareness about disability issues, encouraging society to focus on the abilities of individuals. After retiring from competition Louise embarked on her journey in coaching. She is now a well-respected National coach with the NSW Institute of Sport, her athletes having achieved Paralympic gold, world records, World Championship gold and Commonwealth Games gold medals. Louise’s extraordinary achievements and contributions have been rightly recognised with many prestigious awards, including the first athlete with a disability to be inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame and then elevated to Legend status. She has been awarded the Order of Australia Medal, was the inaugural athlete inducted into the Australian Paralympic Committee Hall of Fame, inducted into the International Paralympic Committee Hall of Fame and the recipient of the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability award, to name just a few. Chancellor, in recognition of her exceptional achievements in sport, her unwavering commitment to disability advocacy, and her tireless efforts to inspire and empower individuals with disabilities, it is with great privilege that I present Louise Sauvage OAM to be admitted to the Doctor of Letters (honoris causa).