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Sauvage 41st legend, Barty wins The Don

Wheelchair racer Louise Sauvage becomes the first Paralympian to be elevated to legend status of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame at the 35th Sport Australia Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala Dinner in Melbourne on Thursday.

The nine-time Paralympic gold medallist is the 41st legend of Australian sport.

French Open champion Ashleigh Barty took home ‘The Don Award’, the first female tennis player to win the award, voted as the athlete who most inspired the nation.

The Australian sports community also welcomed seven new members of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame with the induction of Dennis Cometti AM, Matt Cowdrey OAM, Russell Mark OAM, Robbie McEwen AM, Stephanie Rice OAM, Cheryl Salisbury and Emma Snowsill OAM. Click on the names to read each inductee’s story.

Winx and her connections were presented with the ‘Spirit of Sport’ Award and five young athletes were named as participants in our 2020 Scholarship and Mentoring Program

Sport Australia Hall of Fame chair John Bertrand AO said: “Tonight, we take the opportunity to reflect on one of the most valuable of sport’s many benefits, which is to provide a legacy, not only for future generations, but for our country as a whole.”

“We are unique in the world in our recognition of the full 360 degree of national sporting achievers and tonight we honour the past, celebrate the present and embrace the future.”

“We do this by inducting seven new members into the Hall, elevating one member to become the 41st Legend of Australian sport, awarding the prestigious ‘The Don’ Award to the athlete who meets the Bradman criteria and has most inspired the Nation and present five young sportspeople with $5,000 scholarships, each assigned a member as their personal mentor.”

Sauvage first Paralympian to be anointed a Legend of Australian Sport

Wheelchair racer Louise Sauvage OAM became the first Paralympian to be elevated to legend status within the Sport Australia Hall of Fame at the 35th Sport Australia Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala Dinner in Melbourne on Thursday.

The nine-time Paralympic gold medallist, who becomes the 41st Legend of Australian sport, has been a trailblazer throughout her career and was the first Paralympian to be inducted as a member of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2007.

“It’s fantastic to be honoured in this way,” Sauvage said saying it was an important moment for

Para-sport athletes.

“It should be that Para-sport athletes can be seen and considered in the same light and be recognised in the same manner, so to be elevated is just huge. It’s tremendous and to be thought of alongside some of Australia’s great athletes, it’s just amazing company to be alongside them.”

Louise Sauvage was a dominant force in women’s wheelchair racing for over 14 years, from her debut aged 16 at the 1990 IPC World Championships in Athletics to her retirement after the Athens Paralympic Games in 2004. Her first gold medal came in world record time and her record breaking continued from that moment.

She won nine gold and four silver medals at four Paralympic Games (1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004), twice won gold in 800m wheelchair demonstration races at the Olympic Games (1996 and 2000) along with a bronze at Athens in 2004 and Commonwealth Games silver in 2002. She collected 12 IPC World Athletics Championships gold medals and on five occasions from five appearances won the demonstration wheelchair event at the IAAF world championships.

Her performances elevated Paralympic sport into the spotlight of Australian sport for the first time.

Ashleigh Barty takes home ‘The Don’

French Open champion and world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty is the winner of the 2019 ‘The Don’ Award, judged the Australian sportsperson who through their performance and example has most inspired the nation over the past twelve months.

“I can’t quite believe it to be honest,” Barty said on receiving the award.

“When I look at my fellow nominees this year and people who have won ‘The Don’ Award before, I feel honoured to be a part of such an inspiring and talented group of Australians.”

Barty broke through for her first major championship win at the French Open, the first Australian woman to win that tournament since Margaret Court AO MBE 46 years earlier (1973).

In winning her next tournament, the Birmingham Classic, Barty rose to the world No. 1 ranking, only the second Australian woman to do so since Evonne Goolagong-Cawley AC MBE in 1976.

In reflecting on her 2019 year, Barty says whilst she’s the one on the court, it’s a team effort that resulted in her rise to the top of the world rankings.

“I am so proud of my team and I for what we have achieved. We have worked hard, experienced some amazing highs and lows and enjoyed every bit of the journey.”

“The perfect way for me to finish 2019 would be with a win representing Australia in the Fed Cup, then I’ll be ready to celebrate.”

23- year-old Barty joined Goolagong-Cawley, John Newcombe AO OBE, Pat Rafter and Lleyton Hewitt AM becoming only the fifth Australian to have reached this pinnacle since the rankings were introduced in 1973, and the first since Hewitt in 2003.

Barty, who took a break from tennis for more than a year before returning three years ago with a ranking in the 600s, earned worldwide acclamation for this phenomenal turnaround and her humility, graciousness, poise and determination in both victory and defeat, characteristics highly valued by Sir Donald Bradman, after whom the award is named.

Barty says she holds all those values very highly and it adds to the significance of winning ‘The Don’.

“My parents taught me that being a good person is the most important thing in life, I try and live by that every day, Barty said.

“When I started playing tennis, my first coach Jim Joyce had four ‘rules’ – be a nice person, respect people and be respected, have fun and if you can play tennis that’s a bonus – these are still with me today. At the end of the day tennis is a game and it is meant to be fun. I try to walk away with a smile even after a tough day.”

In winning the 2019 ‘The Don’, Barty becomes the second tennis player to take home the coveted award, joining Pat Rafter who won in 2001.

In a star-studded field of nominees, Barty headed the field that included fellow tennis grand slam champion Dylan Alcott OAM, 2018 NRL premiership hero Cooper Cronk, three-time Tour de France stage winner Caleb Ewan, 2018 world surfing champion Stephanie Gilmore, Bathurst 1000 2018 winner Craig Lowndes OAM, Ashes winners Ellyse Perry and Tim Paine, and swimming world champion Ariarne Titmus.

Next Generation of sorting stars to get gold medal advice

Five of Australia’s most promising young athletes will benefit from the wealth of experience of our nation’s very best as a part of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame 2020 Scholarship and Mentoring Program.

Now in its 14th year, the program is designed to help young Australians reach the highest levels of their sport, by providing encouragement and funding over a 14-month period.

The five athletes presented with their 2020 scholarships (mentors in brackets) include featherweight boxer Jack Denahy (Sarah Fitz-Gerald AM), world under 17 water ski champion Sade Ferguson (Kristy Munroe AM), two-time world junior track cycling champion Luke Plapp (Libby Trickett OAM), under 23 kayak world champion Tom Green (Grant Hackett OAM) and Tokyo Olympic skateboarding aspirant Hayley Wilson (Kevin Sheedy AO).

The young athletes receive one-on-one personal mentoring by a current member of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame along with a $5,000 sporting expenses grant.


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