Newcombe Medal: Alcott achieves Paralympic dream
A dominant 2016 season - highlighted by two Paralympic golds and a second Australian Open crown - has put Dylan Alcott in contention for the Newcombe Medal.
Dylan Alcott had his heart set on Paralympic gold from the moment he returned to the sport of wheelchair tennis in 2014.
Not only did he win a gold medal when he headed to Rio for the 2016 games, but he bagged two – an incredible achievement made all the more so considering he was already a gold medallist in a different discipline – basketball – from when he competed in Beijing in 2008.
His golden season is one of the many reasons the Victorian star is among the six nominees for this year’s Newcombe Medal, awarded to Australia’s most outstanding tennis player and ambassador for the sport.
In addition to the self-imposed pressure of fulfilling his Paralympic dream, Alcott arrived in Rio as the world No.1 quad division player and the reigning Australian Open champion.
The singles gold medal was his to lose.
He and longtime friend Heath Davidson teamed to win doubles gold a day before his singles final, ending the unbeaten Paralympic record of Nick Taylor and David Wagner in a thrilling, come-from-behind victory.
Just 24 hours later, Alcott was again victorious, this time on the singles court.
“It’s a strange feeling, this one (compared to the doubles); it’s more of a relief. Because I’ve been thinking of this moment for three-and-a-half years,” Alcott explained.
“I’m just so proud of what I could achieve, and to the thousands of people who have helped me throughout my life, this one’s for everybody. It means everything.
“The doubles was more enjoyable. You ask any professional athlete – Lleyton Hewitt, Roger Federer, Tiger Woods – and any of them say it’s a feeling of relief when you’re supposed to win, and you win.
“You think about what it’s like to lose way more than what it’s like to win. You think about how this opportunity only comes by once every four years, and if I lose that match I’m gonna be absolutely shattered.”
Yet losing is a feeling to which Alcott is increasingly unaccustomed.
The 25-year-old hasn’t lost a singles match since falling in the semifinals of the Melbourne Open in January to Andy Lapthorne – his victim in the Rio gold medal singles match.
Since then he has built a 32-match winning streak, winning seven titles – including his second straight Australian Open trophy – plus World Team Cup and Paralympic honours.
The top-ranked Alcott is almost 1,000 points clear of second-ranked Wagner in the ITF Wheelchair Tennis quad rankings.