Tennis star and Paralympian Dylan Alcott named Australian of the Year for 2022 | Tennis

Dylan Alcott – the tennis champion, Paralympian and disability advocate – has been named the 2022 Australian of the Year.

The prime minister, Scott Morrison, made the announcement at an event in Canberra on Tuesday night after Alcott qualified for the Australian Open final where he’ll try and win his eighth title.

It is the first time in the annual awards program’s 62-year history that a person with a visible disability has been named Australian of the Year, according to the award administrators.

The Victoria, 31, has won 15 grand slam quad singles titles and another eight in doubles. In 2021 he became the first man in history to achieve a golden slam: all four major singles titles as well as gold at the Paralympics.

A wheelchair user, Alcott has been open about his experiences of bullying and discrimination regarding his disability, particularly in his youth. He was born with a tumour wrapped around his spinal cord, which was successfully removed when he was three weeks old but left him a paraplegic.

In 2017, he founded disability and accessibility training start-up, Get Skilled Access. He is also the founder of the Dylan Alcott Foundation which provides scholarships and grant funding to Australians with a disability.

Alongside his sporting achievements, Alcott has a storied media career, having written an autobiography, Able; hosted a show on youth broadcaster Triple J; and appeared in numerous commentator and presenter roles across television, radio and podcasting.

In 2009, at the age of 18, Alcott was awarded the medal of the Order of Australia.

Alcott announced last year that he plans to retire from tennis after this year’s Australian Open.

The awards for Senior Australian of the Year, Young Australian of the Year, and Australia’s Local Hero were also announced on Tuesday night.

St John Ambulance volunteer Valmai Dempsey, 71, from Canberra, was named Senior Australian of the year. She has volunteered with St John Ambulance for more than 50 years, including during the black summer bushfires.

Young Australian of the Year was awarded to Daniel Nour, 26, from NSW, a doctor who founded Street Side Medics, a not-for-profit delivering a free mobile medical service to people experiencing homelessness.

Shanna Whan, 47, from Narrabri in NSW, was named Australia’s Local Hero. Whan is the founder and chief executive of Sober in the Country, a charity that offers peer support for those who are giving up alcohol, as well as education and advocacy around the harms of alcohol, particularly for rural communities.

The chair of the National Australia Day Council, Danielle Roche, said Alcott was an “inspirational Australian on and off the tennis court” whose foundation was giving young disadvantaged Australians “the promise of a better future”.

“Dylan Alcott is a champion who has risen to the top of the world rankings through sheer grit and determination. His golden slam is an incredible feat, the first for any male tennis player,” Roche said.

Alcott takes the Australian of the Year baton from Grace Tame – a sexual assault survivor, activist, and critic of the Australian government, particularly its handling of the rape allegation made by former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins which is now the subject of criminal proceedings.

A meeting between Tame and the prime minister at the Lodge for Australian of the Year celebrations on Tuesday went viral after pictures were captured of Tame looking unimpressed.

Alcott, who attended the ceremony in Canberra on Tuesday night, will return to Melbourne immediately to continue with his last ever pro tennis match – the Australian Open quad wheelchair singles final on Thursday.

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