Under clear skies and only hours before the Opening Ceremony, the first medals of the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 were decided in the Jaguar Land Rover Driving Challenge.
There was plenty of anticipation for this unique event on Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour amongst competitors, family, friends and media who were on the island.
The 24 competitors from 12 nations had not seen the ‘tricky’ course before and commented how great it was to have such a challenging experience and how ‘beautiful’ the Jaguar I-PACE cars were to drive.
The competition comprised three different challenges to test; competitor driver skills, navigational ability, plus observation and teamwork to determine the winning nation.
The canoe slalom was held in a bespoke water tank full of colour coded gates, followed by a precision zone and a smart cones event.
Teamwork and accuracy is more important than speed in the event that reflects the importance of driving across the armed forces.
Mikhail Ranchin of France explained how important the Invictus Games has been for him.
“I was wounded three years ago by an IED (improvised explosive device) and my leg was destroyed,” said Ranchin.
“This is the final part of my recovery journey. I’m taking part in lots of sports through the week and can’t wait. We enjoy this moment with everyone, our family and friends to share the Invictus spirit.”
Australian competitor Craig McGrath has been training hard for the sailing competition but did everything he could for a strong showing in the Jaguar Land Rover Driving Challenge.
“The course was great fun. I was really nervous at the start but it was a lot of fun. We did some training with the federal police down in Canberra, getting used to handling a car through cones.”
Estoniam Ergo Mets felt the course was hard but fun. He is already having a wonderful Games.
“The atmosphere in the camp is perfect. The Invictus Games helps us to find new friends – New Zealand, Danish guys, Netherlands and Australian guys are all so kind.”
Their Royal Highness The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived presented the medals to the top teams.
The French Team (Arci/Rachin) won gold, Australia (McGrath/Reynolds) the silver, and Team UK (Bingley/Perkins) the bronze.
Invictus Games Sydney 2018