With sweaty palms and nerves aflutter, I took on Paralympian Dyllan Alcott in a round of tennis and quickly discovered why he’s the one holding the gold medal.
My humiliation wasn’t in vain, however, as the World Number 1 Quad Wheelchair tennis ace was here to annihilate a line-up of local identities with a worthy goal in mind – raising money.
The Pier carpark was transformed into a temporary tennis court for the ANZ Cairns Charity Tennis Challenge where Alcott scored $100 for every point won against his opponents. More than $10,000 was raised for the Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation – I’d say that’s a pretty good innings.
A life set on wheels seems no problem for the charismatic Alcott. In a moving presentation at the Shangri-La during the event’s Welcome Breakfast, Alcott explained that more than 20 per cent of Australian’s live with a disability – it’s his aim to see these people normalised in society. As a child, Alcott said, it was uncommon to see people with a disability achieve greatness; “I want to change that and make it easier for future Paralympic champions”.
Taking a bunch of rugby players on in a bout of Car Pool Karaoke would surely set the odds in my favour, or so I thought. Unfortunately, I was easily upstaged by Northern Pride front rower Will Bugden with his sneaky Eminem-like rap skills. I had the pleasure of taking some of the Pride team, along with coach Ty Williams, out for a spin in my Mitsubishi ASX from Irelands of Cairns. Williams said having a local team provided so much to the community. Not only is it a source of inspiration for young athletes but, he explained, a way for up-and-coming players to get a taste of the big league.