Jaguar Land Rover pays tribute with two special awards

At the closing ceremony of the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 our Presenting Partner, Jaguar Land Rover, made two very special presentations.

The competitors honoured were New Zealand’s George Nepata, who was the first tetraplegic to compete at an Invictus Games and Edwin Vermetten of The Netherlands.

Nepata was presented with the Jaguar Exceptional Performance Award after he inspired spectators and competitors alike on the wheelchair rugby court. The award, presented by former Invictus Games competitors Captain Will Reynolds and Curtis McGrath OAM, honours a stand-out competitor, who displays true determination and dedication to achieve exceptional and inspiring performances throughout the Invictus Games.

In a match against Australia, where Team New Zealand was a member down, Nepata pushed through and played the entire game. As the full-time whistle was about to blow on a green and gold win, in a touching gesture by their opponents, the Australian team passed the ball to Nepata to make sure he got across the New Zealand goal line to score the final try.

Humbled by the experience of competing at his first Invictus Games, Nepata said: “It’s just been an awesome and overwhelming experience. Being my first Games, I have just been proud to be here with all my teammates, also family and friends.

“Just coming out for myself, being among the crowd and people it’s been a really awesome journey for me and a very humbling experience. And now, I’ll keep training – I want to keep going.”

Vermetten of the Netherlands was also formally recognised with the Land Rover Above and Beyond Award. The award recognises an outstanding individual who has truly demonstrated the spirit of the Invictus Games.

In an emotional moment during the closing ceremony he was embraced by his wheelchair tennis doubles partner Paul Guest. Vermetten had supported Guest in his time of need when his Post Traumatic Stress was triggered by a helicopter flying over the tennis court.

Vermetten quickly recognised Guest’s distress and went ‘above and beyond’ to support him, comforting him on court and singing ‘Let It Go’ from the Disney movie Frozen, to relieve the stress. 

The pair went on to win the match, creating a moment which has shared the Invictus Spirit around the world.

“The Games were special for me because of the tennis game with Paul,” said Vermetten. “That was my golden moment of the tournament.

“The feelings I have, I was lucky to help, Paul looks like a really tough guy, like a biker with all the tattoos but the chopper flew over and he went in his bubble. For me it was a moment to get him out of there.”

CEO of Jaguar Land Rover, Dr Ralf Speth said, “Everyone at Jaguar Land Rover is hugely proud to be a part of the Invictus Games. The awards highlight two very special competitors, but everyone’s heroic efforts in Sydney should also be recognised.

“On behalf of all our employees, I’d like to congratulate every competitor, for what has been a truly memorable and inspiring week of competition.”

Sascha Ryner and Catriona Dixon
Invictus Games Sydney 2018