Wheelchair tennis star wins his fifth Australian Open crown
WHEELCHAIR tennis star Dylan Alcott won his fifth Australian Open crown in the men's quads singles when he defeated longtime rival and No.2 seed David Wagner 6-4 7-6 (7-2) on Saturday afternoon.
Alcott's a gun tennis player, and has been for a long time. But he's an even better bloke, as his post-match speech showed.
For a moment, if you can, forget about politicians waxing lyrical about Australian values and the divisive connotations conjured up by the date January 26.
If you ever want to show someone the perfect illustration of what it means to be Australian, sit them down for two-and-a-half minutes to listen to what the 28-year-old offered up on Saturday afternoon.
He was speaking to a 2000-person strong crowd on Rod Laver Arena, but his words echoed around the country as an emotional Alcott fought back the waterworks to get his message across.
"Today was a really special day," he said before he lowered the microphone, brought a hand up to his face and wiped away tears. Then he took a deep breath.
"I remember when I was 14 years old, I was lying in bed and all I wanted to do was make it in the mainstream in some way. I wanted to show that people with a disability can be elite at what they do," he said.
"I wanted to show them that they can be normal people, get a job, work, have fun, have a partner - do all the things people take for granted. I just wanted to see people with a disability succeeding in the mainstream and in the media.
"Today, because of the Australian Open and the Wide World of Sports, it was broadcast into every single TV in Australia."
The cheers that rung around the stadium after every point he won didn't match the noise being made by his adoring fans as he continued his address.
Alcott paused to soak up the love and choked back more tears.
"That meant a lot to me and it meant a lot to the 4.5 million people in Australia and to the 1.4 billion people around the world with a disability, it really did," Alcott said.
"I hope this is just the start and we can keep going. It's been great for me but I hope it can be great for a lot more people than just me and I really appreciate every single one of you in this stadium today. It's unbelievable, this crowd."
The tennis star then spoke about how proud he was to be given the privilege of a personalised shoe made in his honour, with the help of his sponsor Asics. Among the touching words, he retained his famous sense of humour.
"They were going to call it the Air Dylan but I can't jump," he said.
For the record, he's going to auction off the pair he wore in the final - one of only two pairs in the world - with the proceeds going to the Dylan Alcott Foundation, which provides support to young Australians with disabilities.
Then, giving an all-Aussie sign-off, it was clear Alcott was pretty thirsty after slugging it out for an hour and 41 minutes under the unforgiving Melbourne sun against his American rival.
"I know I say this every year but after this, in 10 minutes, I'm going to take this trophy to Garden Square and have a beer with every single one of you, so make sure you meet me there."
We reckon there's going to be no shortage of folks taking up that invitation.