Smiles before the start of the women’s 800m final – Sauvage vs Petitclerc

With her body feeling the ravages of a long career at the top of her sport, Louise Sauvage came to the Athens summer Paralympics to meet the challenge of the new queen of wheelchair racing, Canadian Chantal Petitclerc. The 800m final had a field of three Australians (Sauvage, Eliza Stankovic and Christie Dawes), three Canadians and an athlete each from Sweden and Tunisia. The Canadians appeared to work as a team to give Petitclerc a dream run, while Sauvage didn’t benefit from the same organisation among the Australians. In the end, Petitclerc took the race from Sauvage by just 0.19 seconds. Petitclerc dominated the wheelchair events, winning at every distance from 100m to 1500m. Sauvage, with nine prior Paralympic gold medals in the bag, had to be content with two silvers from her Athens campaign and her final Games as an athlete.