With nine gold and four silver Paralympic medals, Louise Sauvage OAM is one of Australia’s most successful athletes.
The wheelchair racer, who has also won the gruelling Boston, Los Angeles, Berlin and Honolulu Marathons, is now helping the next generation prepare for the Tokyo Paralympics and beyond.
Sauvage is a national coach of the wheelchair track and road program at the NSW Institute of Sport, and shares her experiences of coaching in Sport Australia’s new Coaching and Officiating podcast.
“It can be a bit tough, as there’s not a lot of coaches and not a lot of people involved in our sport,” Sauvage says. “It’s a very small community so you have to be a jack of all trades to a certain extent.”
With beginner to elite athletes joining her Saturday morning training sessions at Sydney’s Olympic Park, Sauvage says setting different goals but working athletes together while also having a bit of fun, is key to a successful training session.
“Nothing is stock standard when you’re coaching someone with a disability. You’re always finding ways to think outside the square, how to adapt, how to make it work to what it should look like or how it could look.”
Sharing knowledge, having mentors and athletes feeling like they belong in the sport is also important.
“Most kids in Australia go to their Saturday morning sport or, you know, weekend sport at some stage. They can go and participate. For a lot of kids with disabilities, it’s not that simple. They need specialised equipment, or they don’t fit in.”
“It’s important for them to feel part of that group and know that this is where they belong. They feel comfortable and they can all have a laugh… and enjoy their sport and be active and fit and healthy.”
Sport Australia’s Coaching and Officiating podcast includes conversations with some of Australia’s leading sport coaches, athletes and officials and is available across popular digital services including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify, as well as on the Sport Australia website.
Subscribe today to make sure you don’t miss an episode.