Team Australia celebrates success at Warrior Games

The achievements of Team Australia were celebrated as the curtains closed on the 2024 Warrior Games.

CAPTIONTeam Australia captains Sergeant Emily Lahey, right, and Cooper Blackwood carry the Australian National Flag as they lead the Australian contingent competing at the Warrior Games 2024 on to the stage for the closing ceremony. Story by Flying Officer Belinda Barker. Photos by Flight Sergeant Christopher Dickson.

Navy’s Lieutenant Commander Alex Hale was honoured with the Heart of the Games award, which recognises one member from each team who epitomises the spirit of the games.

The 41-year-old officer was left speechless upon receiving the award.

“I can’t believe it. Very unexpected. It brought tears to my eyes. I can’t believe this is happening,” he said.

“I couldn’t have done this without the support of [my] family and everyone around me.

“Competing in the games has set me up to push through my limitations and day-to-day doubts that come along. The whole experience has been amazing.

“The team is [also] amazing; all those individuals out there with their own stories and challenges that they’ve pushed through to be here. It’s been great to watch them and cheer them on – that’s been the most amazing part of it all, to see them all go through it.”

CAPTION: Australia competitor Lieutenant Commander Alex Hale wins the ‘Heart of the Team’ award for Team Australia at the 2024 Department of Defense Warrior Games.

In another significant achievement for Navy, Lieutenant Kirby Watts claimed the 2024 Warrior Games Ultimate Champion title. The title is awarded to the competitor who earns the most points across eight individual events, regardless of gender.

“When we think about what Ultimate Champion really means, a few key words come to mind,” Lieutenant Watts said.

“We’ve got resilience, grit, determination, focus and sacrifice. And I think sacrifice is probably the most important key word here because everyone here in these games has sacrificed something – from the athletes, coaching staff, support staff, family and friends.

“If it weren’t for the people in my corner sacrificing themselves for me, I wouldn’t be here. So it’s pretty bloody special.”

Competing in powerlifting, cycling, shooting, archery, track and field, swimming and indoor rowing, Lieutenant Watts triumphed over competitors from the US Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Special Operations Command, all while her three children watched on.

“It sends them a very powerful message because for so long they saw a mum who was checked out of life, resigned, a bit of a no-hoper,” Lieutenant Watts said.

“So once I was given this opportunity to prove myself, I grabbed it by the horns and I went with it.”

CAPTIONLieutenant Kirby Watts, the winner of the Warrior Games 2024 Ultimate Champion, with Rear Admiral Ian Murray.

The Australian contingent included 30 competitors and more than 50 of their family and friends.

They will depart July 1, on a Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A to return to home, marking the end of a successful campaign.

The 2024 Department of Defense’s Warrior Games ran from June 21-30.

CAPTIONTeam Australia on the stage for the Warrior Games 2024 closing ceremony.


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