This year saw the Invictus Games take place in Sydney. With Medibank as a Premier Partner of the Games, four employees were selected to spend the whole week as roving reporters. Finance Analyst Reuben Koh, one of the reporters, says it was an experience he is grateful to have been a part of.
Horns blaring. People cheering. Just a typical wake-up call at the 2018 Sydney Invictus Games.
Despite a rocky start caused by the bad weather during the opening ceremony, the Games were well and truly underway with cycling and sailing on day one. Immediately, the unconquerable spirit of the Games could be seen in the tenacity of the competitors working to achieve their goals. There was unwavering support not only from their family members but even people from different countries holding up signs and yelling words of encouragement.
Encouragement from the sidelines.
The seated volleyball was truly inspiring and showed the healing power of sport for the competitors with different disabilities. In the tennis, there was a heartwarming moment when a competitor dropped everything to console his teammate from another country who experienced PTSD from a helicopter flying overhead.
Swimming and wheelchair rugby had the greatest energy by far with an “Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi” chanted at least every thirty seconds. We cheered loudly for first place but in true Aussie spirit, loudest for last. The message of the Games and the electrifying atmosphere united us all for one purpose – the support of the troops, unconquered.
The second half of the week’s events included powerlifting, archery, athletics and wheelchair basketball.
Basketball grand final.
The tension in the gym and on the field for powerlifting and archery was palpable. As each competitor prepared to bench their bar or draw their arrow, the crowd cheered them on with words of encouragement. Whether or not they were able to lift their weight or hit their target, what mattered most was that they were proving both to the world and to themselves that they were capable of bouncing back from adversity to achieve something truly amazing.
It was incredibly emotional to see competitors either achieve their personal bests or just fall short. With the overwhelming support of their friends and family, there was not a dry eye in the room.
Athletics and wheelchair basketball brought out the camaraderie between the competitors at the Games. In the athletics, it was so inspiring to see competitors with different disabilities giving their all. Competitors held hands as they crossed the finish line together while the runners that fell behind were pushed forward by the roars filling the stadium. In wheelchair basketball, the speed and agility of the players made the game a nail-biting watch as the USA took out the Netherlands in the final.
Saturday night marked the end of the 2018 Sydney Invictus Games with the closing ceremony attended by Their Royal Highnesses, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the Prime Minister, and the Premier and Governor of NSW.
Invictus Games closing ceremony.
Before the closing ceremony concluded with performances from Men at Work, Birds of Tokyo and Aloe Blacc, Prince Harry emphasised the importance of mental health for not only our wounded warriors but for all of us.
We are the captains of our fate. The masters of our soul.
This was an experience that I will never forget and I thank the selection committee for providing me with this amazing opportunity.