Australian Paralympian Ryley Batt does not know where he wouldd be without his grandfather’s belief. He only wishes he was alive today to see his homage in Netflix’s new Paralympic documentary ‘Rising Phoenix.’
Batt is arguably the world’s biggest name in wheelchair rugby. But growing up, all he wanted to do was blend in, be one of the boys, and not be noticed for his disability.
Born without legs and most of his fingers, Batt acknowledges that his parents were unsure what the future would hold for him. But his grandfather saw young Batt no different to any other, and instilled in his grandson a belief that has seen him soar to the two-time Paralympic champion he is today.
“I was by myself the first time I saw Rising Phoenix, and it even had me in tears. My Pop knows he was a big influence on my life but God, he would be proud to see this,” Batt said.
“Pop loved to get behind the camera, and he filmed some of the footage you see in the movie. He was very proud of me and he would be really stoked that I’m in a documentary like that, embracing who I am.”
While Batt cannot show his grandfather the movie that encapsulates his journey to date, the Australian was proud to share his experience with the rest of his family.
“I watched the movie for the second time with my family and they were all in tears. It wasn’t tears of ‘I feel so sorry for you.’ It was tears of pride, seeing what myself and these other athletes have overcome and also the challenges that we’ve all accepted,” the 31-year-old said.
“(Rising Phoenix) is a feel-good story, and they’ve done an exceptional job, it’s blown my expectations. I’m really looking forward to the launch and it’s going to create so much hype around the Games. I can’t wait for the world to see it.”
When Batt initially signed on to the project, he had no idea how big the film was going to be.
“I had heard that this could potentially be big, given Prince Harry’s involvement, but I didn’t really know the impact it could make until I saw it,” he said.
“The professionalism of the filming, and the potential it’s going to reach. Who doesn’t have Netflix these days? I don’t think I’ve quite swallowed how many millions of people this documentary will be shown to.
“I’m excited that this is going to be one of those documentaries up there with ‘The Last Dance,’ the Michael Jordan documentary. It’s going to be awesome.”
Batt says Rising Phoenix has also given him the extra boost he needed to keep him motivated for Tokyo 2020.
“Everyone’s story you’ll see is unreal. You’ll see Ellie’s (Cole) and Bebe’s (Vio) and they’re fricken’ amazing,” he laughed.
“Sometimes I think people still look at people with disabilities and think, ‘why would I watch that?’ or ‘that seems boring.’ But you watch every bit of that movie. And I think that’s going to really convert audiences to tune into Tokyo next year.
“It’s just amazing what these athletes can do and how they adapt their bodies and what they’ve had to overcome. If that isn’t motivating for next year, I don’t know what is.”