Louise Sauvage coaches Madison de Rozario at the NSWIS High Performance facility at Sydney Olympic Park.

One of the Paralympic movements all-time great wheelchair athletes, Louise Sauvage OAM, will offer some important words of advice to the New South Wales Institute of Sport (NSWIS) scholarship holders competing in Friday’s Oz Day 10k race – and Sydney’s roasting heat.

“Pace yourself!” said Sauvage, a widely respected high performance coach (pictured with Madison de Rozario).

The race, which has been a highlight of Sydney’s Australia Day celebrations since 1990, will be contested in what’s forecast to be sweltering conditions. That’s led Sauvage to warn NSWIS’s Madison de Rozario OAM, Christie Dawes, Rheed McCracken and Rosemary Little to pace themselves.

“This year the advice will be to ‘pace yourself’ because of the heat,” said Sauvage, a nine-time Paralympic gold medallist. “It’s tipped to be anywhere between 31 to 35 degrees on the starting line – and that will be one of the hardest things this year.

 “So, the advice is to pace yourself, and to look after your health.”

Louise Sauvage

This year’s OZ Day 10k represents a tremendous milestone in the event’s history. It’s the 35th consecutive year it’s been contested, and Sauvage said the race’s longevity – allied with the reputation it has gained around the world – was a great source of pride.

“It’s the sole wheelchair only 10k, and to stage it in the heart of our beautiful city of Sydney is wonderful,” Sauvage enthused.

“It’s very picturesque, but when you’re racing you don’t get to take in the scenery even though you get to race underneath the harbour bridge. It’s a great showcase for international athletes to come here and do a fabulous 10k race.”

Sauvage, who competed in the second Oz Day 10k in 1991, said the race – which was the brainchild of wheelchair racers Peter Trotter and Jeff Wiseman – had come a long way. Testimony to its stellar reputation is this year’s event will also include competitors from the USA, Japan, and New Caledonia.

“I am so proud that it has kept its tradition and come this far,” said Sauvage, who won the event on 10 occasions before calling time in 2003. “I’m very proud we have this race in Australia.”

The 2024 Oz Day 10k also marks the accomplished De Rozario’s first road race in her build up to defending her 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games marathon gold medal.

An interesting footnote is this year’s Oz Day 10k also represents an opportunity for De Rozario – who took out the 2023 title – to equal her coach Sauvage’s 10 Oz Day victories.

Oz Day 10k tyre notes

  • The inaugural Oz Day 10k in 1990 was held around Sydney’s Centennial Park
  • Former Australian cricketer Mike Whitney started the race
  • The race was moved to the Sydney Rocks area in 1991
  • This year is the 35th consecutive year in which the race has been run
  • Kurt Fearnely AO won the men’s race on 11 occasions
  • Louise Sauvage OAM won the women’s race on 10 occasions
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