Wheelchair profile: Dylan Alcott
Having only recently returned to tennis, Dylan Alcott has made an immediate impact on the world stage, and continues to flourish both on and off the court.
“When I started playing (wheelchair) sport in 2001 when I was about 11 or 12; it was a real come and try event and everyone was like ‘good on them for getting out and playing sport’ but now it’s like ‘look at these professional athletes smashing the ball around’.
“(Around six years ago) I had to choose between basketball and tennis (having been the world’s fourth-ranked junior wheelchair tennis player) because I had a better chance of winning a gold medal in basketball. I probably liked tennis more, I was just probably better at basketball back in the day.
“Winning a gold medal (in basketball at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics), you can’t compare anything to that, it’s the best feeling of your life really. Maybe one day I might be able to do that in tennis as well.
“Now that I’m a bit more physical and fitter, I thought I’d come back to tennis, and I hit the ball completely different to how I used to.
“(Less than a year) ago I was in Berlin, the last stop on my seven-month backpacking trip around the world … When I was in there I realised I had to come home and eat some broccoli and read a book because I was losing my brain cells so I called up my old (tennis) coach Greg Crump … had a hit, started to hit a bit more, started paying really surprisingly well, and then I met with Tennis Australia and they said if you can meet (the required level) maybe we can give you a wildcard … then I started playing really well, training my arse off, (got the wildcard) and almost won the bloody Australian Open.
“I train four hours a day, six days a week, 52 weeks a year … Hopefully we can get some more sponsors (for Wheelchair Tennis) because I really want to make a proper career out of that and try and change the way people perceive people with disabilities. Because I remember when I was a kid growing up, if I’d seen a guy in a wheelchair playing two sports and being on TV and being a role model like that, that would have been huge for me, so I’d love to be that guy one day.
“I study commerce with a law minor at Melbourne University, and I work as a motivational speaker. One of my true passions is I really want to work in mainstream media, TV and radio.
“(I’m aiming to) just keep doing the speaking, and trying to get more gigs in the media, and keep doing what I’m doing. I’m a pretty happy guy, really enjoying life, hopefully do a bit of travel and yeah, just keep spreading the word of what people with disabilities can do.”