Leading Seaman Vanessa Broughill was the sole Navy representative in the 13-strong Australian team at the Warrior Games in Colorado Springs from June 1-9, with Private Nathan Whittington and Sergeant Shane Bramley representing Army, and Pilot Officer Nathan Parker and Flight Sergeant Ben Morgan represented Air Force [the balance of the team were not named in Defence reporting].
CAPTION: Royal Australian Air Force Pilot Officer Nathan Parker celebrates his bronze-medal performance in indoor rowing at the Warrior Games 2018 at the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs in the USA. Photo by Leading Seaman Jason Tufrey.
Competing in the 100m, 200m, 400m and 4x100m relay on the track, Pilot Officer Parker won three gold medals and one bronze respectively.
He also was in the sitting volleyball side which defeated the UK, and participated in swimming and indoor rowing.
Pilot Officer Parker said competing in Colorado felt pretty awesome.
“I was lucky enough to get a taste of Invictus Games last year, but to come and experience the Warrior Games here in the US and see the camaraderie between the different arms of their military was just fantastic,” he said.
“The Australian team was popular with all the other teams, and our inflatable kangaroo “Roo” was a big hit with both competitors and fans alike.
“I think the atmosphere we brought to the event is incredible.”
The Australian team competed in 11 adaptive sports such as archery, cycling, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field, and wheelchair basketball, and for the first time in the event’s history, indoor rowing, powerlifting, and time-trial cycling.
Pilot Officer Parker – who was named today as a member of the Australian Invictus Games Team for 2018 – said the camaraderie within the team was a highlight.
“It’s fortunate to be in such a small team – you get to know everyone much better,” he said.
“The team have made an effort to go and watch everyone else compete and cheer each other on.
“To have that support within a group like this is amazing.”
He said the highlight was seeing the athletes come and compete and give their all.
“The cyclists were very impressive.
“Every one of them won a medal and to see them take out gold, silver and bronze in the road race was just awesome.
“Some of the people on our team are fairly new to their sports and haven’t competed in this sort of atmosphere before.
“To see the results they are getting is fantastic to watch.”
Pilot Officer Parker said the biggest challenge was competing at high altitude.
“You notice it when you are trying to get through a race and replenish your oxygen stores and you are really struggling to breathe,” he said.
The games is an adaptive sport competition for wounded, injured and ill (WII) serving and former-serving defence personnel hosted by the United States Air Force.
They brought together about 300 personnel from the United States Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Special Operations Command and competitors from the UK Armed Forces, ADF and Canadian Armed Forces.
Pilot Officer Parker said the power of recovery through sport was massively significant.
“With my injuries, the first thing I could control was my ability to do sport, to get up and walk around, to go and do some push ups,” he said.
“Especially during the toughest of times of rehab when the treatment’s not working or things aren’t going your way, every second you gain on the track or a PB in the pool or on the rower is progress and it means the world and keeps you moving forward throughout that journey.”