This party was a once off. To win a gold medal in a Paralympics not only in my home country, but actually in the city of my birth where I lived would never happen again.—David Hall
The gold medal’s been in my sock drawer for 20 years, so whenever I get socks I relive the day, its unrelenting pressure, the over 10,000 fans waving Aussie flags, the muscle-bound arms of the American Stevie Welch, my archrival, pushing his wheelchair like a madman . . .
I press harder and harder, litter the first set with errors and lose it in a tiebreaker. When I go down early in the second, I start sneaking into the net, totally against my nature, trying anything to change the dynamics. At 5-4 in the second, my set point, I hit a sweet backhand up the line, the American grunting trying to track it down, the crowd beginning to roar through the windy conditions that always seem to blow through the suburbs of Sydney, my birthplace, my home . . . The umpire calls out the score, but no one can hear. The crowd was all in, and so was I.
At 5-2 up in the third, at the change of ends, the emotions start to bubble up. I have to stay calm, play a solid game. When the American hits a final forehand long, the tears start to run down my face. Tears of relief and dreams and obstacles and triumph as the Australian flag is raised and the national anthem sung, as the three medalists do a lap of the court in front of 10,000 fans, as I do another lap alone, holding aloft an Australian flag somebody in the crowd had given me.
I tell this story to another small crowd before me with a smile on my face. I know someone wants to ask: “Why does a man without feet need socks?” My stumps get cold, I tell them.
Socks and medals, strange bedfellows.
This piece was co-written by David Hall and David Linebarger
David Hall Bio: A member of both the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the Australian Sporting Hall of Fame, David Hall is quite simply one of the greatest wheelchair players in the history of the sport. Ranked #1 in the world for six different years, he has won 33 major championships. The reference to “All In” in the artwork above is to his memorable Induction Speech for the International Tennis Hall of Fame. More biographical information is available on this page as well. Check out his cool personal website and his great website called Let’s Roll: Learning Wheelchair Tennis with the Pros. You can also follow David on Twitter.
Artist Bio: Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, Nial Smith is a designer/artist/illustrator/filmmaker. He is most famous in tennis circles for his witty spoof movie posters of Andy Murray (and other players) such as Crocodile Dunblane.
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