Channel Nine delayed broadcasting the national evening news on Thursday night so they could stream Aussie Paralympian Dylan Alcott’s last ever tennis match at the Australian Open. As they should.
The 31-year-old played against Dutch tennis player Sam Schröder in the Quad Wheelchair Singles Finals at the Australian Open on Thursday. He lost 7-5, 6-0.
The event was broadcast across the country during Channel Nine’s 6pm news bulletin. That might not sound like much to some but it’s a poignant gesture by a media network that reminds people that a disabled sport is equally as important as a non-disabled one.
That’s a great way to kick off the gold medal winner’s tenure as Australian of the Year if you ask us.
Alcott explained in a heartfelt speech when collecting his runner-up trophy what it meant to see his sport recognised in the same way as non-disabled events.
“People like me, we are getting not only the recognition but we are integrated and involved in our society especially. We want to be more and more every day.
“If you look up at the middle ring [of the Rod Laver Arena], see how many people with a disability are here, right?
“That’s the reason I get out of bed. It really is.”
Alcott then said he hoped to continue to make his community proud during the next 12 months as Australian of the Year.
“This is the last time I’ll ever get to be on this court,” he said.
“Thank you to everyone for changing my life.”
Schröder dedicated a part of his victory speech to a tribute to 2022’s Australian of the Year.
“I want to say congrats to Dylan on having an amazing career,” he said.
“You’ve inspired so many people to get out there and play sports. So for disabled kids watching back home, I know you’ve done a great job inspiring the world.
“I hope to one day be able to do one small part of that.”
Dylan Alcott announced in November that he was retiring from tennis after the Aus Open. He hopes to spend his time continuing to advocate to improve the lives and perceptions of people living with a disability in Australia.