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LEGEND! Dylan Alcott named Australian of the Year but reluctantly puts party on hold

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25th January, 2022
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The extraordinary Dylan Alcott started his day by advancing to another Australian Open wheelchair final and finished it as Australian of the Year.

Even by his own lofty standards, Tuesday was a very big day for the everywhere man.

As such, it was just as well that Alcott got the tennis part sorted out as quickly as possible before leaving Melbourne Park and flying to Canberra.

Chasing an eighth Australian Open wheelchair title in his last tournament before retiring, Alcott needed only 69 minutes to beat long-time British rival and friend Andy Lapthorne 6-3 6-0 in the semi-finals.

He was off the court before 12.30pm, leaving just enough time to complete his regular media commitments, have a shower and a bite to eat, throw on a suit and then rush to Tullamarine to board a 4pm flight to the nation’s capital.

After being named the AOTY, Alcott spoke about the many different roles in his life.

“I’ve heard the Australian of the Year after-party is one of the best after parties ever,” Alcott said.

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“But unfortunately I’ve got an Australian Open to try and win in about 36 hours.

“I really hope I make you proud out there.

“But winning grand slams and gold medals isn’t my purpose.

“It’s like the 30th priority of my life.

“My purpose is changing perceptions so people with people like me can get out there and live the lives they deserve to live.”

Paralympic champion and tennis golden grand slam winner Alcott described himself as the “luckiest guy in this country” as he was honoured for his disability advocacy.

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He made history last year as the first man to complete a golden slam of all four major singles titles as well as Paralympic gold in a calendar year.

Alcott paid tribute to frontline workers, nurses, doctors, vaccinators and other first responders working through the pandemic.

“You deserve this much more than a guy who hits tennis balls and loves talking. I really mean that. It’s such a huge honour,” Alcott said.

He became a paraplegic as a baby following an operation to remove a tumour wrapped around his spinal cord.

“I hated it so much, I hated being different. And I didn’t want to be here anymore,” he said.

But Alcott paid tribute to the athletes who went before him in the public eye.

“Paralympic athletes, people like that are the reason that I got into sport, advocates like Stella Young, they paved the way so I can be here tonight. They should have been Australian of the Year as well,” he said.

“I’m honestly so honoured to be up here and it’s because of them and everybody in my life that I sit here as a proud man with a disability tonight.

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“I’m the luckiest guy in this country.”

© AAP

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