• Taryn Moran competes in the shotput at the Invictus Games. (Team Invictus - Australia)Source: Team Invictus - Australia
Invictus – definition: Unconquered. This week has seen the running of the second Invictus Games in Orlando, Florida which began with much fanfare and deep emotion at the Opening Ceremony on Sunday.
Jill Scanlon

12 May 2016 - 10:51 AM  UPDATED 12 May 2016 - 10:52 AM

The idea for this event was the brain child of HRH Prince Harry with the first Games taking place in London in 2014 based around the concept that sport can play a significant role in the rehabilitation and recovery of wounded, injured and ill serving and former serving members of national defence forces worldwide.

Australia has proudly sent a team of 40 competitors to the US who have joined over 400 adaptive athletes from 13 other nations to compete in ten different sporting disciplines, including wheelchair basketball and rugby, sitting volleyball, archery, track and field events and swimming to name but a few.

Of the 40-strong Aussie contingent there are six women – serving and former members of all three arms of the ADF – and they’re having a big week.

Among them, Darlene Brown, a 45 year old former member of the Australian Navy is recovering from PTSD and she became Australia’s first medal winner of the week when she scored silver in the Light Weight Power Lifting event.

But it does not stop there for Darlene, she also has sitting volleyball, road cycling and archery in her repertoire.

Joining Darlene with some added bling has been Taryn Moran, a 34 year old Tasmanian, formerly in the Army, also currently recovering from PTSD and reaping the rewards of heaving the Shot Put far enough to win a silver medal in the Track and Field event.

Taryn was not alone though as Day Two was a great day for the Aussie Track and Field contingent all round.

In fact the Aussie team has been doing well winning gold in the rowing and fans across the board.

Stories of athletes overcoming great challenges and using sport are everywhere with the Invictus Games acting as the catalyst for many in setting and achieving the goals of recovery and rehabilitation on many levels.

One example is Ulfat Al-Zwiri, the only female in the 17 person Jordanian team. Her parents have travelled to the US to support their daughter and have said that sport has helped her to make remarkable progress in her recovery from injuries suffered while serving in the Jordanian army.

Ulfat Al-Zwiri competed in just the one event -- the Women’s 100m dash -- and while she crossed the line last, well behind her opposition, she received a standing ovation from the crowd and was embraced by her fellow competitors and her team mates who were watching the race.

It was again on display when the trainer for the Australian power lifting team stepped in to assist the lifters in the Afghanistan team during competition as they did not have a coach.

This is the overwhelming spirit in which this competition has been played out.

This week is about the athletes and Prince Harry has not been the only big name on the prowl around the venues offering support and applause.

Corporal Crissy Ashcroft, currently serving in the Australian army, found herself more than rubbing shoulders with former US President George W Bush, who reportedly approached her in great admiration saying “I've never seen a woman your age lift a weight like that!"

49 year old Cpl Ashcroft secured 4th place and a personal best lift of 70kg in the Women's Heavyweight powerlifting competition.

There are many stories being told this week of courage and bravery, not only on the battle field but in the hospitals, rehab centres and on the sporting fields at these games.

Whatever the story and whosever the story, the one certainty from watching the Invictus Games is that it restores your faith in the strength of the human spirit and the small but significant role sport can play in supporting that spirit.

And if you are wondering about the often repeated mantra this week at the Games --

“I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul”

– these are the last two lines from the well-known 19th Century poem ‘Invictus’ by William Ernest Henley, himself a man who lived with disability, which stands as an undercurrent to the spirit of these games.

Check out the Invictus - Team Australia Facebook page for all the news and photos from the event.