Reinvigorating a spark of competitiveness

Sue Osborn may only be a relative newcomer to adaptive sports, but her love for all things sport runs deep.

CAPTION: Warrior Games 2024 competitor Sue Osborn at the Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, ACT. Story by Flying Officer Tina Langridge. Photo by Flight Sergeant Ricky Fuller.

In fact, it is her passion for team sports and the collective sense of camaraderie and purpose it brings that is motivating the 48-year-old to compete at this month’s Warrior Games in Florida.

The former Australian Army medic and unmanned aerial vehicle operator spent more than 27 years in the service and, since medically discharging in 2021 with severe osteoarthritis in both knees, ankles, lower back and neck, has been trying to fill the void in her life that sport once used to fill.

“A big part of my service life was sport and representing the Australian Defence Force in rugby, AFL, soccer and touch football. I also played rugby league in Sydney and represented NSW,” said Wollongong-raised Ms Osborn.

“Sport was a really big deal for me and, when I got injured, not having team sports or that camaraderie or connection with community was tough. Sport was my life.

“The adaptive sports program has reignited my belief in myself, and the fact there are options to still participate in team sports even though I am not able to run or jump.

“This whole experience has given me a purpose and a desire to do physical activity that isn’t specifically rehab. It’s reinvigorated a spark of competitiveness, of feeling like I can value-add to a sport again. Having this purpose is incredibly uplifting and motivating.”

And it’s also highly significant since her injuries mean she lives with constant pain and on occasions cannot even take a step because her joints lock and seize.

Ms Osborn, who also has tinnitus and hearing loss in one ear, admits she was unfamiliar with the adaptive sports program prior to hearing about the Invictus and Warrior Games through friends and social media. She also thought her type of injuries stopped her from participating in these events.

However, since attending the Warrior Games training and selection camps earlier this year and being chosen to compete in wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, athletics and powerlifting events, she has made the effort to investigate what is on offer around her Gold Coast community.

“I’ve learnt that adaptive sports lend themselves to my injuries. I have joined a Gold Coast wheelchair basketball team and my teammates are really supportive,” she said.

CAPTIONSue Osborn, of Team Australia, competes during in the women’s powerlifting competition at the Warrior Games 2024. Photo by Flight Sergeant Christopher Dickson.

“I can now contribute positively to my own mental health. I can still play sport and have fun.”

As for being a part of the 30-strong Team Australia squad, Ms Osborn is pumped.

“Just getting here and being part of a team is the win for me,” she said, adding that her partner, Renee, and daughter, Bella, will be cheering her on from home.

“I feel like I’ve only just started on this journey … there’s more to come.”

The Warrior Games is an annual adaptive sports competition hosted by the US Department of Defense.

It will be held at ESPN Wide World of Sport Complex at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando from June 21-30 and includes archery, athletics, cycling, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, shooting, indoor rowing and powerlifting.

 


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