Not many athletes can say that they are in contention for a second Paralympic gold in a second sport before their 25th birthday. Then again, there aren’t many athletes like wheelchair basketball-turned-wheelchair tennis star Dylan Alcott.
Dylan achieved a rare feat when at 19-years-old, he was part of the Australian wheelchair basketball team which secured the 2010 World Championship after famously winning gold at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing. He also went on to play a key role for the Rollers as they won silver at London 2012.
With two Paralympic medals and a World Championship title to his name, it is almost too hard to believe that Dylan’s peak in sport still lies ahead in wheelchair tennis.
Born with a tumour wrapped around his spinal cord, Dylan underwent major surgery at three days old which resulted in paraplegia. Growing up with a love of sport, Dylan took up wheelchair tennis as a child and his skill and passion for the sport saw him quickly climb up the ranks to become number four in the junior world rankings by the age of 16.
Making his comeback in 2014 after retiring from wheelchair basketball, Dylan took the wheelchair tennis world by storm when he defeated world number three Andy Lapthorne (UK) in the British Open final to win his first Super Series crown. Proving his results were no fluke, Dylan followed up his gold medal win when he became the first Australian athlete in recent memory to win the Australian Wheelchair Tennis Open in 2015. Taking out the grand slam victory in front of a rowdy home crowd is his greatest sporting moment and says that exact moment is when he realised that his dream of winning two Paralympic gold medals in two sports could be achievable.
Currently ranked at world number two in his classification, Dylan concedes he has had a few mishaps in his whirlwind career. He believes that falling out of his wheelchair during the trophy presentation at the Australian Open is the most embarrassing moment of his life.
With a gold medal at Rio 2016 firmly in sight, Dylan gets into competition mode by listening to the Wu-Tang Clan’s ‘Protect Ya Neck’ before he goes on court. With a keen interest in music, Dylan famously went one step further in his love for the hip hop group when at the 2014 Meredith Festival, he performed a verse of his psych-up song with rapper Ghostface Killah.
Dylan is also a huge advocate for disability and sees it as his purpose in life to help change perceptions of disability. In 10 years time, he hopes to not only be known for his career in sport but as a trailblazer for people with a disability in the media.
When he isn’t smashing it on the court or speaking out for people with a disability, Dylan has made a name for himself for his ‘wheelchair crowd surfing’ at music festivals across Australia.