What a transformation in four years as winner swaps sports to claim top honours and British pair make singles final against the odds.14 Sep 2016
“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!”
Australia’s Dylan Alcott claimed his second gold medal in 24 hours and Great Britain created history on a wonderful Wednesday of wheelchair tennis.
Alcott backed up his gold in the quad doubles with another victory, this time in the quad singles, on Wednesday (14 September).
Meanwhile, the men’s singles gold medal match will be an all-British final for the first time in Paralympic history, as Gordon Reid and Alfie Hewett secured their spots in the final.
Four years ago, neither British pair nor Alcott thought they would achieve what they have: Hewett was a spectator at the 2012 men’s singles final; 20-year-old Reid was knocked out in the quarter-finals; and Alcott was claiming a silver medal in the men’s wheelchair basketball to add to the gold he won in 2008.
How times have changed for the trio in Rio.
Reid took control of his match against world number one Stephane Houdet and powered his way into the final.
After a tense first set which went to the Brit 7-5, the 24-year-old took complete control of the second as he dominated the rallies and went on to win 6-2 to add to an already fantastic 2016.
“I could never have dreamed to have had such a good year so far,” said Reid.
“I’m just loving every minute of being out on court and playing tennis and showcasing our sport to a massive crowd here and to the massive coverage all over the world.
“After the doubles yesterday when we made it to the gold medal match I was really relaxed because I felt we were in complete control of the match yesterday. Today I kind of felt the same way, especially in that second set, I felt in complete control of the match.”
Hewett will join his doubles partner in the all-British final as he made a fantastic first set comeback to help him on his way to victory over world number two Joachim Gerard.
The youngster came back from 3-0 down to win the first set 7-5, before hitting several brilliant backhand winners to claim the second set 6-3 and his place in the gold medal match, as well as his first victory over the Belgian.
“I’m absolutely speechless right now. I did not think this morning that I would win that. My track record against him; I’ve never beaten him before,” delighted Hewett.
“Jo made it tough and made it a good game, but I feel like I’m on form right now and this is the best thing that has ever happened to me.”
In the quad singles it was delight for Dylan, as the Australian claimed his second wheelchair tennis gold medal in his debut Paralympics in the sport; his third gold medal across two sports.
Alcott battled throughout the game against Great Britain’s Andy Lapthorne in a thoroughly entertaining quad singles final with both players pushing themselves to the limit.
The Aussie took the first set 6-3 before a to-and-fro second set of each player breaking serve before Alcott clinch the gold 6-4 in an hour and 34 mins.
“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!”,” said Alcott.
“It’s a massive feeling of relief because I’ve been thinking about it for a while, but also so proud of my team and friends and family and everyone that has supported me.”
Lapthorne said: “I knew going out there today that I was going to have to grind, I was going to have to rally and try my best to get into the game.
“The guy is the best in the world and a brilliant tennis player and he came out and proved why tonight.
“One thing is for sure our division is going places and the more people who see our division the more people will respect our division, and believe you me this is just the start.”
Elsewhere, David Wagner claimed the victory in the bronze medal match with a stunning third-set comeback over South Africa’s Lucas Sithole.
The game was all level at two sets all before USA’s Wagner came from 5-1 down to claim the third 7-5.
“Yeah, it’s a great feeling to come out with a win after a really long hard week. It feels good to end on a high note,” said Wagner.