Tokyo: Australian wheelchair tennis legend Dylan Alcott announced these Paralympics will be his last after winning another gold in the men’s quad singles final on Saturday, a tournament he says was the hardest he’s ever competed in.
The four-time Paralympian said he was planning to drink “ten thousand beers” on Saturday evening after prevailing 7-6, 6-1 against Sam Schroder from the Netherlands.
Dylan Alcott after his men’s quad singles gold medal in Tokyo. Credit:Getty
Although Alcott says he couldn’t care less, his clinical victory keeps alive his bid for a golden slam, which involves winning all four grand slams, plus a Paralympic gold medal. Alcott has now three slams and the gold medal, with just the US Open left in 2021.
“I’m not coming back to the Paralympics ever again,” Alcott said. “I love the Paralympic Games so much. It means so much to me. When I was 17, I got to play with the Rollers [Australian wheelchair basketball team] and we won gold and it was life-changing. Paralympic sport saved my life. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. I owe it so much. To get it done today was bloody awesome.
“It’s the sweetest of all my wins because I got pushed. I shouldn’t have won. I had the expectations of the whole nation on my shoulders but I think Australia would have survived if I lost. I remind myself that so I don’t have that much expectation.”
Alcott had to dig deep in the first set but his class shone through as he wrapped up the match on his terms, sealed with an incredible backhand winner on match point. The stunned look on Alcott’s face said it all.
A two-day delay helped Alcott mentally and physically reset for a match that he was no certainty to win, given the rising standard of his opponents around the world.
The 30-year-old rarely gets emotional but this latest victory, away from friends and family who watched on at home in Australia, meant more than any of his decorated career.
“That was the hardest tournament I’ve ever played,” Alcott said. “I feel like an old ancient man. I’m in agony. I’m just so thankful and grateful that I was able to get it done. I’ve worked so hard. The Australian public’s got behind me and my career, the whole Paralympic movement, I’m just such a proud Paralympian. I’m proud of my disability.
“I was almost done after Rio and then I just kept going. [These Paralympics] got delayed a year. I was in a dark place when it got delayed because I was done and I found a second wind and my family got me through and my team. I didn’t think I was going to make it. The extra year was so bad for me because the Dutch kids got awesome. We found a way to keep motivated. I’ve got a few more tournaments left in me but not three years left. It’s so special to go out on top like this.”
Alcott wrapped up his final in straight sets. Credit:Getty
Alcott will travel to the United States in coming days for the US Open, where he will attempt to lock away a fourth grand slam in 2021 to go with his latest Paralympics heroics.
While supporters and admirers will continue to talk about the golden slam, Alcott reiterated it wasn’t something that motivated him.
“Everyone’s been crapping on about the golden slam but I couldn’t care less right now,” Alcott said. “I’ve got to celebrate this for what it is, which is one of the biggest achievements of my career, I’m just honoured to be here and to get it done.
“The US Open, I’ll think about when I get to New York. I’m a Paralympic champion for the fourth time [in] basketball and tennis. It’s incredible stuff.”
Minutes after his match, Alcott cracked open a Corona with his doubles partner Heath Davidson and said he was looking forward to celebrating his second individual wheelchair tennis gold medal in style.
“I’ll drink ten thousand beers,” Alcott said. “Get ready, Tokyo. Get all your beers ready. I’m so excited, I haven’t had a beer in ages.”
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