New Zealand grandmother on target for a beaut birthday

All Jill Philip wants for her birthday is a shower and a good night’s sleep.

And that’s not surprising, when you consider how the mum of New Zealand archer, Grant Philip, has spent her 72nd birthday at the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 presented by Jaguar Land Rover.

As the full-time carer and sports aid for Grant, who is a tetraplegic, Jill was on the sporting field early at Sydney Olympic Park supporting her son in the open compound competition.

Unable to use his limbs, Grant needs assistance in loading the bow and collecting his arrows – roles Jill takes on. As an adaptive archer, he uses a mouth tab to release the arrow with his mouth.

Despite being in the midst of competition, Jill’s big day didn’t go unnoticed with the stadium announcer sending out a big happy birthday on behalf all of those in the crowd which included Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark.

“I didn’t even hear the announcement – I was too busy counting up the scores,” laughed the grandmother-of-two.

What I want most for my birthday is a shower and a good night’s sleep!

“Still it has been an astounding birthday. This is a special time for us. Grant’s brother and his wife are here with their kids – it’s nice to have us all together as a family supporting Grant at the Invictus Games.”

As an active teenager, Grant had earned the prestigious Queen’s Scout Award and his gold Duke of Edinburgh before falling awkwardly from a diving pontoon at a beach aged 18. He had just returned from an army reserve camp and had planned for a career in the military.

Grant’s love for sport, and quest for adventure, has continued in the wake of his accident and includes a 12-year involvement with para sport pistol shooting at a national level.

“Sport has been important for Grant,” mum Jill said.

“Before his accident, when he wasn’t scouting, we were always out and about tramping. He’s always busy and doing.

“What got me at the opening ceremony the other night was everyone had a disability – and look at them – they are having fun, they’ve got mates, they are getting through.”

Catriona Dixon
Invictus Games Sydney 2018