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Invictus Games

Mr MURRAY (Davenport) (13:54): My question is to the Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing. Can the minister please update the house on the achievements of our South Australian athletes at the Invictus Games?

The Hon. C.L. WINGARD (Gibson—Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services, Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing) (13:54): I thank the member for Davenport very much for his question. This is a very good question. He is a very good member and cares very much about what is happening in our community...

The Invictus Games were an absolutely outstanding event in Sydney. Most people would have seen them, of course, on the television. For those who are not aware, the Invictus Games are an international adaptive multisport event for wounded, sick and injured service personnel.

The games were created in 2014 by the Duke of Sussex, who was inspired after he attended a similar event for wounded veterans in the United States a year earlier. It recognised the positive impact sport could have on the recovery and rehabilitation of wounded, injured and ill servicemen and servicewomen. It was a great pleasure to attend the Invictus Games, representing the Premier. The games were held in Sydney, with over 500 competitors from 18 countries competing in 11 adaptive sports.

The resilience, leadership and camaraderie on display were absolutely outstanding. I was fortunate enough to go to a number of events for the South Australian athletes in the lead-up. To see the way they rallied around and embraced the concept of competing in the games and being involved in sport was truly inspiring.

As I said, nine South Australian athletes represented themselves and this state with great pride and distinction. I would like to take the opportunity to mention and acknowledge the people who took part, including 33-year-old Corporal Steven Avery, who represented Australia in wheelchair basketball. A quote I read from him about the games I think truly summed up what the games are about. He said of the Invictus Games:

Sport has given me the motivation to get up and do something. For a long time, I just sat inside feeling sorry for myself, putting on weight and becoming unhealthy.

This is a link to sport for someone who had served his country but was perhaps not in a great place. To get involved in sport and to see that on the track and in the competition at the Invictus Games was truly inspiring, as was the way athletes rallied around one another, whatever country they were from, to help each other get through. It wasn't about winning; that was very much a sidenote. It was about competing and supporting one another.

The other athletes I would like to mention are 33-year-old Leading Seaman Vanessa Broughill, 30-year-old Brendan Hardman, 44-year-old Able Seaman Daniel Marsh, 30-year-old Emilea Mysko, 50-year-old Darren Peters, 48-year-old Chris Pitman, 35-year-old Steve Sandman and, finally, 27-year-old Ben Yeomans. I was lucky enough to be there when Ben collected two of his gold medals for the 100 metres and for the long jump. He had both his children with him when he received the medals. I did say that it's not about the medals, but this was a very special moment for him. To have his children with him when he received those medals was truly inspirational and you could see that it meant a lot.

I would also like to acknowledge The Road Home, which did a lot of work with the University of South Australia to help get the athletes ready. They have what they call the Invictus Pathways Program, and they worked really closely to make sure that the athletes were as best prepared as possible.

The families must also be recognised. Another great thing to see about the event was the families and friends supporting people who had used sport and the great power of sport to put themselves in this position; it was so uplifting to see. The inspiration and recognition of families and the love that you saw with these people helping people, as I said, often coming from a dark place, to get themselves back into a better position were truly inspiring.

I was lucky enough to represent the Premier at an event just the other day to welcome all the athletes home and to make sure that they still stay up and about. There was talk about the drop-off after the Invictus Games and the lows that might be there afterwards because it was such an exciting event, but clearly they were still being very well supported and I thank everyone for their involvement.

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