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Celebrating the Invictus spirit

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Invictus Games athlete Ben Farinazzo smiling and giving a thumbs up in front of the Opera House after being named in Team Australia, with other team members in the background.

Ben Farinazzo is one of 72 veterans who will represent Australia at Invictus Games Sydney 2018.

The huge smile on Ben Farinazzo’s face said it all.

The Soldier On ambassador and former Australian Army officer had made the Australian team for this year’s Invictus Games, and he couldn’t be happier (see the full team list below).

‘So proud to be selected for Team Australia to compete at Invictus Games Sydney 2018!’ he wrote on social media soon after the announcement.

‘Thank you to family, friends and community for your support. Bring it on.’

The Invictus Games is an international adaptive sporting event for current and ex-serving military personnel who have been wounded, injured or ill during their service.

The event uses the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for wounded, injured and ill service men and women.

Invictus Games Sydney 2018 will be held from 20-27 October and will attract 500 competitors from 18 nations. DVA will also host several tie-in forums in the lead up to, during and after the Games (see below for details).

Mr Farinazzo told Vetaffairs prior to his selection that it had been terrific to be part of the Invictus experience even before the Games had begun.

‘It has been absolutely remarkable,’ he said.

‘The ability to connect with an extraordinary group of people who are focused on improving the quality of their lives, and the lives of others, despite their wounds, injuries and illnesses is just outstanding.’

Now 44, Mr Farinazzo joined the Army in 1991. After graduating from the Australian Defence Force Academy and Royal Military College Duntroon, he was posted to the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. In 1999, he deployed on active service as part of the International Force in Timor-Leste.

He discharged in 2002 and has since worked in leadership roles with Outward Bound Australia, the Australian Business Academy and the Commonwealth Bank.

In recent years, though, the veteran and his wife, Jodie, and their children, Keely, Tom and Max, have faced several challenges.

‘I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of my military service,’ Mr Farinazzo said.

‘I also had a mountain bike accident and fractured my neck and spine in several places.’

Sport has played a critical role in helping him to balance his mind, body and connection to the world following his diagnosis and the accident.

‘There was a period in my life where I was walking through the valley of the shadow of death,’ Mr Farinazzo said.

‘Sport has helped me recover both on the physical side and the mental side, to get to where I am today.’

The former CEO of Outward Bound now feels ready to embrace the challenge of competitive sport, and to reconnect with the veteran community in a supportive environment.

‘Just being part of a group of people who have had extreme challenges in their lives is something that really inspires me to keep going, and through that camaraderie you get in sport, I’ve been able to take massive steps forward,’ he said.

Mr Farinazzo acknowledges he will be among the older competitors in his primary sport of rowing.

‘But I’m hoping to dig into a little bit of wisdom there and give it my best shot,’ he said.

DVA will deliver three major events tying in with the Invictus Games: the Families & Employment Forums (18 October); the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 Symposium (19 October); and the International 5-Eyes Conference (20—21 October). A Veterans Ministers’ Round Table will be held on 27 October. For more information, see Invictus Spirit makes its mark as Games near. For more on Invictus Games Sydney 2018, including how to book tickets, visit the official website for the Games.

TEAM AUSTRALIA

  • Peter Arbuckle
  • Corporal Steven Avery
  • Brigid Baker
  • Corporal Taryn Barbara
  • Graham Bell
  • Carrie-Anne Bishop
  • Matthew Blunt
  • Nicole Bradley
  • Davin Bretherton
  • Leading Seaman Vanessa Broughill
  • Private Peter Brown
  • Matthew Brumby
  • David Connolly
  • Pilot Officer Jesse Costelloe
  • Able Seaman Mark Daniels
  • Gareth Desmond
  • Benjamin Farinazzo
  • Trent Forbes
  • Sapper Thomas Foster
  • Tyrone Gawthorne
  • Erika Gosney
  • Samantha Gould
  • Able Seaman Braedon Griffiths
  • Tim Grover
  • Brendan Hardman
  • Stephen Hayes
  • Luke Hill
  • Wayne Hopkins
  • Simon Horridge
  • Captain Ruth Hunt
  • Damien Irish
  • Kevin Jacoby
  • Private Luke Jones
  • Heidi Joosten
  • Captain Emma Kadziolka
  • Jarrod Kent
  • Beau King
  • Dean Knobel
  • Rebecca Kuenstner
  • Trudy Lines
  • Michael Liddiard
  • Craig McGrath
  • Jocelyn McKinley
  • Jason McNulty
  • Able Seaman Daniel Marsh
  • Matthew Model
  • Emilea Mysko
  • Corporal Sonya Newman
  • Stephen Osborne
  • Daniel Parker
  • Pilot Officer Nathan Parker
  • Matthew Payne
  • Corporal Sarah Petchell
  • Darren Peters
  • Chris Pitman
  • Scott Reynolds
  • Garry Robinson
  • Peter Rudland
  • Steve Sandman
  • Squadron Leader Rob Saunders
  • Rye Shawcroft
  • Stewart Sherman
  • Sarah Sliwka
  • Tony Sten
  • Jamie Tanner
  • Alexia Vlahos
  • Tiffany White
  • Private Nathan Whittington
  • Andrew Wilkinson
  • Marcus Wilson
  • Jeff Wright
  • Benjamin Yeomans

Learn about each member of Team Australia on Defence’s Invictus Games website

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