By Corporal Mark Doran, ARMY Newspaper
There are definitely nerves but also a lot of excitement as 43 Australian athletes prepare to hit the world stage to show the healing power of sport.
CAPTION: Australian Invictus Games team captains Sergeant Peter Rudland and Captain Emma Kadziolka, with the Aussie Team, at the Sydney Academy of Sport and Recreation, NSW. Photo by Corporal Jayson Tufrey.
Participants from the ADF and RSL will compete at the Invictus Games in Toronto, Canada, from September 23-30.
The contingent is due to fly to Toronto – compliments of the Royal Australian Air Force on a KC30A multi-role tanker transport – tomorrow, 20 September.
Co-captain of the Australian team Captain Emma Kadziolka said excitement was building in anticipation of competing.
“Most of us are extremely happy with the progress we’ve made during our training and rehabilitation this year and we are looking forward to a positive Invictus Games experience,” Captain Kadziolka said.
“Because we are so geographically spread out, there is responsibility on the individual athletes to stay motivated.
“Apart from our training camps, the team sports of wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby also had opportunities to play in tournaments.”
Captain Kadziolka said the commitment and hard work by the athletes was amazing.
“It’s not about a medal tally for us – it’s about going to Toronto and giving it our best effort,” she said.
“Of course there will be individual goals, but a lot of us will be chasing our best personal performances.
“When we walk out in front of the crowd for the opening ceremony I think it will be an incredibly intense experience.”
Co-captain Sergeant Peter Rudland said everyone in the team worked extremely hard during the months of preparation.
“As we progressed, the training camps increased in intensity along with the degree of nervousness and excitement for most of the competitors,” Sergeant Rudland said.
“The athletes want to perform at their best, especially in front of their families, as they represent the ADF and Australia.
“The hardest part for some was the challenge of overcoming the obstacles associated with their physical injuries or mental health.
“I think the main challenge was our own expectations.”
Sergeant Rudland said the best part of getting ready for the Invictus Games was how the athletes came together as a professional team during the training.
“It’s been a continuous development for us, even in the individual sports,” he said.
“We are a small team with a variety of backgrounds and injuries, and although it’s not just about the medals, I think we will have a good standing in the tally.
“A lot of us are here for our recovery journey, though I think there are some who are also keen to bring back a medal.”
The Invictus Games is an initiative of Prince Harry and is an international adaptive sport competition using the power of sport to motivate recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding of the sacrifices made by the men and women who serve their countries.
Toronto will host more than 550 competitors from 17 nations for eight days of competition in 11 adaptive sports including archery, athletics, indoor rowing, powerlifting, road cycling, golf, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis and wheelchair rugby.
Participants will also compete in the ‘Jaguar Rover Driving Challenge’.
Expressions of interest for the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney from October 20-27 are now open. For more information and nomination forms visit: defence.gov.au/events/invictusgames