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Paralympian Dylan Alcott is the first-ever Australian of the Year with a disability

Paralympian and disability advocate, Dylan Alcott was named Australian of the Year yesterday.

The 31-year-old athlete, Dylan Alcott is a Paralympian, philanthropist, media commentator and disability advocate who was awarded the honour of Australian of the Year.

This legend began his athletic career in wheelchair basketball, followed by tennis and has won awards for both his sports achievements and his disability awareness work.

Credit: Gary Ramage

Alongside Alcott, St John Ambulance volunteer Val Dempsey was named Senior Australian of the Year, Dr Daniel Nour was named Young Australian of the Year for providing medical support to vulnerable Aussies and Shanna Whan, who is an alcohol education advocate was named a Local Hero.

As usual, the ceremony was quite the tear-jerker and Alcott’s acceptance speech was no exception.

“I’ve been in a wheelchair my whole life … I’ve known nothing but having a disability,” he said.

“If I’m honest with you, I can’t tell you how much I used to hate myself. I used to hate having a disability. I hated being different.

“And, whenever I turned on the TV or the radio or the newspaper, I never saw anybody like me. And, whenever I did, it was a road safety ad where someone drink drives, has a car accident and what’s the next scene? Someone like me in tears because their life was over.

“I thought to myself, ‘That’s not my life’, but I believed that was going to be my life. But I’m so lucky that I had one of the best families, some of the best friends, my beautiful partner and my whole team who told me that I was worthy.

“I’m honestly so honoured to be up here and it’s because of them and everybody in my life that I sit here as a proud man with a disability tonight.”

Naturally, the whole speech resulted in a standing ovation from the audience.

What an absolute champion.