AUSSIE OF THE YEAR ALCOTT GUNNING FOR EIGHTH AO TITLE



Photograph: AAP


Aussie icon Dylan Alcott was named Australian of the Year just hours after his semifinal victory of Andy Lapthorne.


Alcott rushed to the tarmac after defeating Lapthorne 6-3, 6-0 in an hour and nine minutes on Kia Arena to advance to his eighth Australian Open final in a row.


Alcott was at his clinical best, hitting 21 winners as he raced away with the match in the second set. The Aussie created plenty of chances on the Lapthorne serve and was able to convert 5/9 breakpoints to set up the win.


Now, the Aussie is set to play his last professional tennis match on Thursday against Dutch rival and No. 2 seed Sam Schroder in the quad wheelchair singles.


Yet, the real story came after the match. Alcott had been nominated for the Australian of the Year and didn’t want to be the first person to accept the award over zoom if he won. So, he rushed to the airport and boarded a plane headed for the nation's capital.


It was here where Alcott was recognised for a career of work in Paralympic sport as well as being a role model for those with disability and to the community through a range of other deeds.


Alcott became the first person with a disability to win the award and hopefully won’t be the last.


“This one's really hit me in the heart. Like honestly I didn't think I was going to win. Just everybody nominated, just amazing people,” Alcott said.


“But from someone who just absolutely 100% hated himself as a kid, hated my disability, I was embarrassed. If you could tell 14-year-old Dylan he was Australian of the Year, wouldn't believe it for a second.


“Yeah, I mean, emotionally I'm a full 10 out of 10. Physically I'm a 2 out of 10. I am wrecked. I wouldn't want it any other way. That's how I always live my life.


“I'm here because of my family and friends and my team, Tennis Australia, the media, the Australian public who have supported me. But also so many people with disability that came before me that knocked down these barriers so I can be who I am.


“Athletes, like I mentioned, Louise Savage, Kurt Fearnley, Danni Di Toro, and advocates like Stella Young. People who I saw for the first time. They should have been Australian of the Year as well.


“Yeah, look at me. I'm just shocked but also pretty humbled and grateful I guess for the support.”


Congratulations to Alcott on a wonderful moment in his wonderful life.