From being bullied at school for having a disability to becoming a three-time Paralympic gold medallist across two sports, Dylan Alcott is enjoying life right now.
In 2008 in Beijing he won Paralympic gold with the Australian men’s basketball team and then went on to claim silver in the same sport four years later in London.
But he returned to tennis, his first love, and became what he had always dreamed of – a wheelchair tennis gold medallist.
After dominating the quad division in 2015 and the early stages of 2016, Alcott was tipped to do well in Rio. But even he did not think he would do this well. In the space of 24 hours he became a double wheelchair tennis gold medallist.
“I love being a two-time wheelchair tennis gold medallist more than anything, it’s pretty astonishing,” said Alcott, with a beaming smile on his face and one of the two golds around his neck.
“I love having a disability and I wouldn’t change it for the world and I’ve done the double-double I guess, two-sport gold and the doubles and singles, that sounds alright to me!”
The 25-year-old won quad doubles gold with his childhood friend Heath Davidson on Tuesday night, as they beat three-time quad doubles Paralympic champions Nick Taylor and David Wagner 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.
And he claimed the country’s first quad singles gold medal since its inclusion in the Paralympics with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Great Britain’s Andy Lapthorne.
He also became the first Australian wheelchair tennis gold medal winner since the great David Hall won singles success at the Sydney Games in 2000.
“To reach the pinnacle of two Paralympic sports and win gold in both sports, if you told me that when I was a little kid when I was having a tough time about my insecurities about my chair, I would’ve said ‘no way, mate!’.
“It’s a massive feeling of relief because I’ve been thinking about it for a while, but I’m also so proud of my team and friends and family and everyone that has supported me.”
Alcott, who is also a motivational speaker during his time away from the tennis courts and gym, wants kids to look up to the stars of wheelchair tennis and believe they can reach the same heights.
“The more and more awareness we have, the more people will come down and watch, and the more kids that will get involved.
“When I was a kid I looked up to Roger Federer and Pat Rafter, two people who I could never be because I couldn’t run. But, hopefully, kids will look up to Dylan Alcott and Andy Lapthorne, and aspire to be people that they can be.”
The journey of the Alcott-Lapthorne rivalry has only just started and the GB man is already preparing for a rematch in four years’ time on Centre Court in Tokyo.
Since their rivalry begin in 2014, when Alcott re-joined the sport, they have continued to push one another to their limits and now they want to continue that battle over the next four years and beyond.
“He’s the best player in the world for a reason,” said Lapthorne, with his silver medal shining in the lights.
“One thing is for sure: our division is going places and the more people who see our division, the more people respect our division and believe me, this is just the start.”
“Lapo and I are good mates and we said maybe six months ago ‘the best gold medal match will be you and I’,” said Alcott.
“I really respect him for what he does on the court. His mates were awesome, my mates were awesome and they were chanting at each other and that is such a spectacle.
“We don’t get that all the time, but that’s what we want all the time!”