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Portrait of Dylan Alcott.

Athlete and ability advocate
Victoria | 2022 Australian of the Year

As a teenager, Dylan Alcott hated being in a wheelchair because he didn’t see anyone like him in mainstream media. Then sport changed everything. He won a gold medal in wheelchair basketball at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games, before switching to tennis and winning three more Paralympic golds.

Dylan has also won 23 quad wheelchair Grand Slam titles and a Newcombe Medal. He recently became the first male in any form of tennis to win the Golden Slam – four Grand Slam titles and an Olympic gold medal in one year.

Despite his sporting success, Dylan is most proud of his achievements off the court. He founded the Dylan Alcott Foundation, a charity that supports young Australians with disabilities in sport and study, and is a co-founder of Get Skilled Access, which provides organisations with realistic advice on disability inclusion from people living with disability. Dylan also established Ability Fest, a fully inclusive and accessible music festival.

Tennis racquet used at the Tokyo Paralympics, 2021

In 2021 Dylan Alcott was chasing the rarest title in tennis – a Golden Slam. To achieve it, in a single year he had to win the quad wheelchair singles title at every Grand Slam event, as well as the gold medal at the Paralympic Games. Dylan became the first male tennis player ever to win a Golden Slam. This is his racquet.

Beyond the tennis court, Dylan is a dynamic advocate who aims to change the way Australians see disability. Among his many projects is Ability Fest, Australia’s first fully accessible music festival, which raises money to help young Australians with disabilities to realise extraordinary ambitions.

A yellow and black tennis racquet with grey textile wrapped around the handle.

Tennis racquet from Dylan Alcott

The life we deserve to live

Being a good tennis player is probably number 38 on my priority list, after being a good person, a good family member, a good partner, a good friend and a good advocate. The reason I get out of bed is to change perceptions, so that people with disability can live the life they deserve to live. Not just in sport, but in media, education, employment, dating – every aspect of life.

Business sense

Caring about people with disabilities is not to get that warm, fuzzy feeling – it just makes business sense. There are 4.5 million people in Australia with a physical or non-physical disability. We are consumers, just like you. We want to do things, just like you. So why not understand this demographic?

Proud

I’m proud to be disabled. I’m proud to play wheelchair tennis. I’m proud I’ve won the Golden Slam in wheelchair tennis.

This exhibition was developed by the National Museum of Australia in collaboration with the National Australia Day Council. Portrait images supplied by the National Australia Day Council.

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