The members of our team for the first Invictus Games in Australia should be admired not just for what they have done for their country, but for what they are about to do, Plt-Off Aaron Curran reports.
After months of trials, training and effort, the combined ADF and RSL team of 72 athletes for this October’s Invictus Games in Sydney was announced on the steps of the Sydney Opera House on June 15.
On a sunny winter’s day, the athletes were joined by their families and friends, Defence Minister Marise Payne, Veterans Affairs’ Minister Darren Chester, CDF Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, corporate partners and senior ADF leaders.
Senator Payne referred to the original challenge laid down by Invictus Games’ founder, Prince Harry.
“When we announced the location in 2016, some of you might remember a challenge was issued by another redhead, and I think he said, ‘game on Down Under,’ ” she said.
“Well, it’s up to you, and I know you will go forward to Sydney Olympic Park and other venues across this fabulous city and show them what we mean by ‘game on Down Under’.”
She said more than 200 serving and former members of the ADF applied to become members of the 2018 team.
“You all went through trials and selections and we have before us the fabulous team of 72 representing every state and territory,” she said.
“It’s an amazing effort to grasp the opportunity that Invictus Games has provided for men and women like you.
“I had the chance to read all the biographies of all the team members and it gave me an insight into what brought us here today.”
Senator Payne said the Australian public admired the Games athletes “for what you have given and what you continue to give and they cannot wait to see you in Invictus Games 2018”.
Air Chief Marshal Binskin said ADF members were great ambassadors around Australia and the world and current members, veterans and athletes would be “great ambassadors for this country” during the Games in Sydney.
“I want to tell you how proud we are of you and the families and the support they provide you,” he said.
“You have worked hard to get here to this day and you deserve it. Do us proud at Invictus Games in October.”
Captain Emma Kadziolka said she felt proud and privileged to be in the team.
“I was excited but the nerves kicked in knowing we have a limited amount of time to prepare for Sydney in October,” she said.
“Overall I’m very thrilled to be there.”
Captain Kadziolka said that after taking 43 athletes to Toronto it was great to have a larger team on home soil.
“Representing Australia is a huge honour,” she said.
“We look up to Prince Harry as he has provided us with a huge opportunity.
“We would like to engage with the community and spread the message of Invictus Games.”
Tickets for Invictus Games Sydney 2018 are now on sale at www.invictusgames2018.org