Listen: Australian's Paralympian Louise Sauvage reminisces about the Sydney 2000 Paralympics
Reminiscing about the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games has almost become an Olympic sport. In a tough year, many in the Hopeland community have enjoyed reliving some of the best moments of their life.
My own memories centre around the Paralympic Opening Ceremony – I saw the ceremony with my brother, who has a disability and uses a wheelchair – when I felt such pride that people with disabilities were enjoying their moment to shine on the world stage.
Someone who was right in the thick of it was Louise Sauvage – Australia’s best-known Paralympian. She won two gold and one silver medal in Sydney and lit the cauldron for the Paralympic Opening Ceremony.
Louise sees the Sydney 2000 Paralympics as a turning point in giving wheelchair athletes and other Paralympians the respect they deserve for their achievements.
“It’s definitely the way we wanted to do it. Atlanta four years earlier was quite disappointing on many levels,” Louise said.
“Knowing that Australia and Sydney had the Games in four years, we wanted to make sure that we had the best Games. And the best Games wasn’t just putting on a sporting event. It was making sure that everyone was aware of the Paralympics, and the education process that happened prior to it.
“It absolutely turned it around. People came in droves to the Paralympics. It was just unheard of for the crowds to be there. It was just phenomenal. And I was just so proud – the media and the general public embracing us, and international athletes coming up to me, just astonished that we’re on the front and back page of the paper, and the headline news on the 6 o’clock news.
“It was just amazing and I was so happy that we’d done such a good job,” she said.
Today, Louise is still involved as a coach in her sport, Wheelchair Track and Road, with two athletes on the national team and high hopes for the Tokyo Paralympics.
Louise said it has been wonderful to have something positive to remember, in what has been a challenging year for lots of people.
“It’s been very, very special. I was at the ceremony the other day and they re-lit the cauldron here in Sydney. It’s really nice to have those feelings and memories come back.”
Louse has been sharing her memories of this special time on a new podcast with Australian journalist Mark Beretta, celebrating 20 years since Sydney 2000.
Beyond the Games is available now wherever you get your podcasts, or from sydneyolympicpark.com.au.