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The road to the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 has been a varied one for many of the competitors. But every member of the Australian team we spoke to had one thing in common – their emphasis on the support they have had to reach the Games. With this in mind, we thought what better way to really get to know our Australian team than to get to know the people who have been the most important in supporting their journey?
Mark Daniels and Rye Shawcroft are both competing in this year’s Invictus Games in Sydney. We talked to them about their friendship and what meeting through the Invictus Games has meant for both of them.
When I met Mark I met the person that most people see – really down to earth, always smiling, very strong willed. His nickname is Hollywood for all the time he spends in front of the cameras! But what you get to realise, once you know him a bit better, is that a lot of work goes on behind the scenes, both by Mark and by the support team he has around him – friends, family and the community – that enables him to have the strength and the perseverance that he does.
We haven’t known each other for too long but our connection was strong straight away, both in terms of what we enjoy doing and the mindset that we both have, and helped along by our sense of humour. On the day we met we swapped numbers, stayed in touch and were doing an obstacle race together pretty soon after. I’d been the first wheelchair user to complete Tough Mudder in 2016, with the help of Soldier On and some of the guys from St Kilda. That was great, and I did it again in 2017, but doing True Grit with Mark really meant a lot, because it gave us the opportunity to show what people with disabilities were capable of. That’s something that drives Mark in everything that he does – he doesn’t believe in being limited by his disability, and wants the same thing for anyone else in the same position. He’ll use the platform of the Invictus Games to get that message across to as many people as he can.
Competing in the Invictus Games has been a massive goal for me. I wasn’t successful when I applied in 2017, but even having it as a goal to aim for helped me to wrap my head around my injuries, and gave me a starting point to work from, both mentally and physically. Mark’s one of my team mates in the sitting volleyball event. He’s really strong willed, always seems to be smiling. It really takes a lot to get him down, he’s always getting back up. He keeps a hectic pace, never slows down. We’ve got our next event together after the Games planned, but I’m also hoping he’ll take some time for himself to recover and enjoy the achievement.
Rye and I have actually only known each other for about nine months, but we’ve connected so much in that time so it feels like a lot longer. We were introduced at one of the first Australian Invictus Games team camps because one of the team staff saw his Tough Mudder t-shirt and said he knew someone who he should talk to – that was me. Fitness absolutely saved me after I was injured, and I really enjoy challenging myself through doing obstacle races. I have done Australian Ninja Warrior and True Grit among others. A few months after Rye and I connected, we were doing True Grit together – he was the first wheelchair user ever to complete the course.
I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who I had some much in common with, and really connected with on a spiritual level. For both of us, despite our physical disabilities, mentally we’re both limitless. We know in our hearts that if you want to do something badly enough you can achieve it. Rye’s determination and mental strength are unreal – and his humour is infectious. Being in an environment like True Grit together when you are really relying on each other and your team to get through it, is both a really good bonding experience and shows you what someone is made of. Seeing him get around that course using just his arms where able-bodied people were struggling just to walk it was pretty awesome.
Unlike me, who loves the camera, Rye is pretty shy and very humble about his achievements. The Invictus Games for him will be a chance to serve again, in a different way, and an opportunity to showcase his fitness, which has always been important to him, and such an important part of his recovery and this new phase of life. I think he’ll do really well. Competing at the Invictus Games is great, but what’s really special is making those lifelong memories and the friendships that will keep you going after it’s over. I know Rye is one of those mates that I’ll have for a long time.
Deloitte are incredibly proud to be a Founding Partner of the fourth Invictus Games, taking place in Sydney from 20-27 October 2018. For more stories and details visit our Invictus Games webpage.
Louise Kelly is the author of the Blog post.