An emotional Dylan Alcott has bowed out of the Paralympics in the best possible fashion, clinching gold in the quad singles final to keep his “golden slam” dream alive.
The 30-year-old dug deep in Tokyo on Saturday to overcome young Dutchman Sam Schroder 7-6 (7-2) 6-1 and successfully defend his Paralympic wheelchair title from Rio.
The singles win was sweet revenge for Alcott after he and Heath Davidson surrendered their Paralympic doubles crown to Schroder and Niels Vink.
The 30-year-old will depart Tokyo for the US Open, where he will try to make it a perfect five from five after also winning the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon crowns in 2021.
Alcott started his Paralympic career as a teenager, winning gold with the men’s basketball at the 2008 Beijing Games, and declared 2021 was his fourth and final.
He finishes with four gold and two silver medals from his tennis and basketball entries.
“I’m not coming back to the Paralympics ever again and I love it so much, it means so much to me,” he told Channel Seven after the medal ceremony.
“When I was 17 I got to go with the Rollers and we won gold and it was life-changing but Paralympic sport in general, it saved my life.
“It was the best thing that ever happened to me and I owe it so much so I took a moment to look around because I’m so grateful it came into my life.”
He said he hoped his journey had changed perceptions about people with disabilities and what they could achieve, both in sport and in life in general.
“Not every person with a disability can be a Paralympian but they can be a doctor, a lawyer, a mum, a dad, a teacher, an educator, politician whatever it is.
“But they don’t often get the opportunities that we get here to play sport.
“It means that much to me. It’s huge. And to get it done today is bloody awesome.”
Channelling Lleyton Hewitt’s trademark ‘C’mon’, Alcott willed himself to a first-set win after trailing 3-5.
Alcott was able to break back and then consolidate before he steamed through the tiebreak to clinch the set.
With all the momentum, the second set was a mostly one-sided affair with Alcott sweeping through in 40 minutes.
He said he drew on the knowledge it was his last Games while down in the first.
He started to think about how lucky he was to be playing for another gold medal and tried to have fun.
“I started to enjoy it more and when I do that I play well,” the world No.1 said.
“I should have lost today, that first set – but I just found a way and it’s because of how bloody hard I’ve worked.
“I can’t believe we did it we actually did it and this is for everybody so thanks.”