• 72-strong Australian team for the Invictus Games Sydney 2018, presented by Jaguar Land Rover
  • Team members rise to the Jaguar Land Rover Driving Challenge
  • The Invictus Games are for 'Wounded Warriors', serving and former serving wounded, injured or ill military personnel
  • The Invictus Games Sydney 2018 will be Sydney's biggest sporting event this year

07 September 2018, Sydney, Australia – The New South Wales capital is just weeks away from hosting Sydney's biggest multi-day sporting event of 2018, the Invictus Games Sydney 2018, presented by Jaguar Land Rover which will see competitors from 18 countries celebrating the fighting spirit of the 'Wounded Warriors', serving and former servicemen and service women wounded, injured or ill during their military service.

Australia will field its biggest team ever in this, the fourth edition of the Invictus Games, with 72 members competing in 11 sporting disciplines in and around the Harbour City from October 20 - 27.

Archery, athletics, indoor rowing, powerlifting, road cycling, sailing, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby, as well as a unique driving challenge featuring Jaguar vehicles are all on the cards and Australia's team is raring to go.

Alexia Vlahos' military career came to an end after injuring her back and her right knee which led to five surgeries on the knee, including two reconstructions and a bone graft from her hip. She is making her Invictus Games debut in Sydney and plans on giving it her all.

A state-level basketball player in her teens, she is competing in athletics, indoor rowing, and powerlifting in Sydney and says she is not scared to try anything.

"I will definitely be going for it. You just do what you can do," she said.

"Just days after my second knee reconstruction and being told I was being medically discharged, someone told me about the Invictus Games. Thinking about going for Games selection brought out an inner drive in me to work for something.

"There has been a lot of encouragement and support from all of the Invictus Games guys. They are my saviours and I love all of them."

In 1998, Davin 'Bear' Bretherton, who saw service in Somalia, was involved in an armoured personnel carrier accident. His right leg was severely injured and 26 operations over 11 years could not repair the damage.

"It was the 27th op - that was when the decision was made to 'put Bear in a chair'," he said, pointing to the wheels now giving him mobility.

Davin currently holds the wheelchair boxing Australian title and was recently selected to compete in the Wheelchair National Rugby League (NRL) World Cup in France.

But it was a different set of wheels Davin was eyeing-off at the Jaguar Land Rover Driving Challenge selection trials though after powering a black Jaguar F-Type through the tough 'Smart Cones' motorkhana.

"That was just absolute fun, a real blast. The accuracy of that car was just amazing," he said, high praise from a man who has tried wheelchair boxing and bobsledding, hauled himself across the Kokoda Track and regards downhill drifting in his wheelchair as "a great bit of fun".

Competing in sailing, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby at the 2018 Games, Davin says he plans to simply enjoy his second Invictus Games and live for the moment.

Former Air Force engineer Wayne Hopkins, a 21-year veteran who saw service in Iraq, was seriously injured in a vehicle accident 12 years ago. Late last year he mounted his bicycle for the first time in more than a decade with the hope of gaining the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 selection.

"In December I picked-up my bike for the first time in 12 years and tried to ride 10 kilometres. I was slow, it hurt and at the end I vomited but I did it. Now I'm riding 60-kilometre distances at race pace and I'm competing for Australia in the Invictus Games Sydney 2018," he said.

While Wayne was not selected for the Driving Challenge, he liked testing his skills in the array of Jaguar and Land Rover cars and came away impressed.

"I really enjoyed the accuracy and precision of the Jaguars and the surefooted ability of the Land Rovers over the six different disciplines. Very enjoyable. The cars all just felt so responsive."  

Jaguar Land Rover Australia Brand Manager, Mark Eedle, said "October's Invictus Games will be a very special sporting event for Sydney, giving everyone the opportunity to salute the competitors, their families and the friends who have helped them with their Invictus Games journey.

"We are proud to partner them on this journey and we are with them every step of the way."

"Each of the 72 competitors in the Australian team has shown remarkable commitment to our country and their communities, and they bear the scars of sacrifices made in our name."

"We not only thank them for what they have given, but also for something more: their refusal to let their service come to an end," he added.

"At Jaguar Land Rover, we believe there are many synergies between the Invictus Games and our own brand values and we are inspired by the huge impact the Games continue to have on the rehabilitation of our wounded warriors."

For more information about the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 visit: www.invictusgames2018.org