Australian Ryley Batt says winning back-to-back Paralympic titles in men’s wheelchair rugby tops anything he’s ever experienced – including his wedding day.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been happier in my life,” he said.
“I really shouldn’t say that, because I’m married, and the wedding day is meant to be the best day of your life. But I think the missus would agree.”
The star player helped the Steelers extend their golden reign in Rio, beating America by a single point in a nail-biting double overtime thriller on Sunday (Monday AEST).
It was the first time the reigning Paralympic and world champions had defeated their world No.1 US rivals in a major competition.
They also became the first team in history to win consecutive Paralympic and world championship titles in a four year period.
Batt scored a stunning 27 goals but said he couldn’t hear the crowd roaring for him.
“You get in the zone mate, it’s just white-line fever, you don’t hear anything, it’s just a noise in the background,” he said.
“But man, I need some food, I need a beer, I need a glass of water.”
With Australia holding a two-goal lead deep into the fourth quarter, the Steelers made a couple of costly errors, which the Americans pounced on, forcing the decider into overtime.
It was goal for goal in overtime and with 1.4 seconds to go, Australia drew level to force a second overtime.
A huge defensive effort from the Aussies with 15 seconds to go in the second overtime ensured the US weren’t able to equalise and the Steelers grabbed the gold.
When Batt heard the final siren, he tipped over in celebration.
“First of all I was in a lot of pain because my shoulder almost popped out. But who cares? Months off now, we’re two-time gold medallists,” he said.
It was a clash of the Titans between the only two remaining undefeated nations in the competition, and Aussie captain Ryan Scott was glad to finally break Australia’s American stranglehold.
“There was always an asterisk over us because we avoided the US in London, but we wanted this,” he said.
“We wanted to beat them and show everyone that we can do it.”