Navy athletes pack their bags for the Invictus Games in London

Published on CPL Mark Doran (author), Mr David McClenaghan (photographer)

Commander Joint Health Command, Rear Admiral Robyn Walker and National President of the Returned and Services League, Rear Admiral Ken Doolan with some of the members of Australia’s Invictus Games Team after the official launch at Parliament House. (photo: David McClenaghan)
Commander Joint Health Command, Rear Admiral Robyn Walker and National President of the Returned and Services League, Rear Admiral Ken Doolan with some of the members of Australia’s Invictus Games Team after the official launch at Parliament House.

Three Navy personnel will compete alongside other members of the Australian Defence Force and the RSL in the Invictus Games in London from September 10-14.
 
The Invictus Games is an international adaptive multi-sport competition for current and former serving military personnel who have been wounded, injured or become ill in service to their country.
 
This inaugural event is an initiative of Prince Harry and is supported by the UK Ministry of Defence and the Royal Foundation.
 
Participants will compete in athletics, archery, indoor rowing, power lifting, road cycling, sitting volleyball, swimming and wheelchair basketball and rugby.
 
The Australian contingent will join more than 400 athletes from 14 countries, including Afghanistan, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Iraq, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the US and the UK.
 
Navy Lieutenant Daniel Prowse of CIOG, who is battling a major depressive disorder, said for him, participating in the Invictus Games meant a second chance.
 
“Since being unwell, motivation in many things has been low, making regular exercise an effort. This opportunity will allow me to come out of my comfort zone and grow; meeting other servicemen and women battling adversity,” he said.
 
“I was initially in disbelief, then relieved and excited at the same time that I was given a place on the team.
 
“It has injected me with much needed motivation, giving me focus and allowing me to create and reach fitness goals. This obviously has a substantial impact on not only my physical wellbeing but also my mental state.”
 
Lieutenant Prowse will compete in the 100m sprint, 50m backstroke, swimming relay, archery and wheelchair basketball events.
 
Able Seaman Electronics Technician Sam Maraldo of HMAS Kuttabul, who sustained serious knee injuries as a result of a training accident, said he was excited and nervous because he was representing Australia and going to London for the first time.
 
“I am competing in the archery and seated volleyball,” Able Seaman Maraldo said.

“Since being selected, I’ve increased my workload during my rehabilitation with the exercise bike and pilates and have sought out training with the Sydney Archery Centre to fine-tune my skills.
 
“For me the focus of the Invictus Games has really taken away focus on what I can’t do and brought me back to what I can do. It had been so long since I felt that I was able to participate in any activities like that. This was the initiative I needed to break the cycle,” Able Seaman Maraldo said.
 
Leading Seaman Kirsty Lee Brown of HMAS Cairns will compete in the 50m breaststroke, javelin, and wheelchair rugby and basketball events. Leading Seaman Brown is being treated for chronic pain, post traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety arising from her involvement in the SIEV 36 incident in 2009, where an illegal entry vessel exploded, killing five Afghan nationals and injuring more than 50 others.

“I helped rescue 56 people that we then cared for until we could disembark them. I was awarded a Group Bravery Citation and a Gold Commendation,” Leading Seaman Brown said.
 
“In 2012, I was involved in a search and rescue in heavy seas off the coast of Indonesia. In teams of a couple of boats, we managed to pull about 100 people out of the water.
 
“The Invictus Games means an opportunity to connect with Defence members present and past from nationals all over the globe with similar experiences/injuries and illnesses,” she said.
 
“It will also be a great opportunity to meet with family and friends of Defence members who support those who serve. This experience will push me out of my comfort zone and hopefully be a positive experience for my physical and mental health.”
 
Sixteen currently serving and 20 former serving athletes will represent Australia at the Invictus Games.
 
The athletes selected to attend include nine serving and 18 former serving Army members, three serving Air Force members; three current and two former serving Navy members and one former serving Royal Marine.
 
With the importance of family in the support and ongoing rehabilitation, Defence is supporting one family member to accompany each athlete during the Invictus Games.
 
A key element of the Games is a recovery summit that will provide participating nations with the opportunity to discuss the support and management of wounded, injured and ill service men and women, to help further enhance health and rehabilitation support services.
 
Commander Joint Health Command, Rear Admiral Robyn Walker will represent the Australian Defence Force at the summit.
 
The Invictus Games is an opportunity for participants to focus on what they can achieve, celebrate their fighting spirit and encourage them to stay active when they return to their local communities.
 
Team list:


Flight Sergeant Tony Benfer
Leading Seaman Kirsty-Lee Brown
Corporal Kyle Burnett-Brooks
Sergeant Lia Halsall
Lance Corporal Craig Hancock
Private Adrian Humphries
Squadron Leader Daniel Jeffery
Sapper Curtis McGrath
Able Seaman Samual Maraldo
Lieutenant Daniel Prowse
Private Clancy Roberts
Sergeant Garry Robinson
Sapper Craig Scott
Sapper Matthew Taxis
Sergeant Nathan Vardanega
Sergeant Sarah Webster

Imagery is available on the Australian Defence Image Library at http://images.defence.gov.au/S20142348.