“My motivation is changing perceptions, so people with disability can live the lives they deserve to live. That’s my purpose. The accolades along the way are cool but that’s not why I get out of bed.”
Alcott’s semi-final will go down as one of the most epic Paralympic wheelchair tennis matches in history. Physically and emotionally broken, Alcott’s warm embrace with Vink demonstrated the best of sport following a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 thriller.
His interview shortly after, when he choked back tears, was widely shared on social media.
Alcott explained why what occurs post-match is extremely important.
“I’ll tell you what I’m most proud of; all our athletes and what they’re saying in their interviews is unbelievable,” Alcott said. “They are advocating for not only people with disabilities who play sport, for our whole community in general. Every single interview I watch I’m just hit for six. I’m so proud of our team and what they stand for and how they communicate.
“That is why there has been an increase in interest. Not because what we’re doing on the field or the track, but what we’re saying afterwards. That is getting shared. It’s an honour to be a very small part of it.
“The support I have received has been unbelievable. I was on the front page of The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald because of your story. It’s incredible for the movement and hopefully people are seeing us for what we are, which is elite athletes first and foremost who happen to have disabilities. It’s changed the game for the Paralympics and for us.”
Alcott says he was extremely thankful his match was moved from Thursday night to Saturday morning. It will be beamed into Australian living rooms at 11am AEST.
“How cooked was I on a scale of one to 10? Probably 204,” Alcott said. “They were going to schedule my gold medal game at midnight. I said ‘you can’t play a gold medal game at midnight’. They came to their senses.
“It means so much to me to keep this Paralympic dream alive. I don’t know how many I’ve got left. I could have been done there. To fight through and get that win was incredible, especially against the next generation in Niels who is a good friend. He took it to me and it was unbelievable. I wanted to be tested by the best to be the best. That is the best match I’ve been involved in.
“We kept the dream alive and we’ve got one more to go.”
Always grateful for the opportunity to represent Australia at the Paralympics and play tennis professionally, Alcott says life on the road isn’t always sunshine and roses.
He spent nearly nine weeks away recently during his French Open and Wimbledon campaigns, followed by hotel quarantine in Australia, three weeks in Melbourne, before what will be another seven-week block on the road.
“It’s tough,” Alcott said. “On our tour, the grand slams are incredible, but the other tournaments for wheelchair athletes probably aren’t as glamorous as you might think. They’re out in the countryside, they’ve got no funding.
“People think it’s sitting by the river in Paris drinking red wine and hanging out. It’s not. It’s a grind but I’m also not complaining because people right now in Australia are lining up at Centrelink because they’ve lost their job, they’ve lost their loved ones. I fully appreciate I’m lucky and I’m grateful doing my job.
“I do a lot of other things in my life. I work in the media. I have a couple of companies I run. One is a consulting company called GSA and another one is where we educate people about disabilities, the other one is Able Foods, I have the Dylan Alcott Foundation too. So when I’m away it’s hard work. I used to love playing 30 tournaments a year because that’s all I had. Now I’ve got other things in my life.
“I encourage everyone to watch on Saturday because I promise we’re going to put on a show. Win, lose or draw I’m going to be giving it a red-hot crack.”