Graphic: Marcus Wilson sailing
On boats and along the shore, thousands of fans gathered around Farm Cove, in Sydney harbour, to watch the Invictus Games sailing event on Sunday 21 October.
For the RFDS the race had special significance. Manager of its Broken Hill Base, Marcus Wilson was sailing for Australia.
Marcus and the Elliott 7 sailing team won the race, the first event of the Invictus Games after the opening ceremony the night before.
RAAF Squadron Leader and sailing coach Rob Saunders skippered the vessel with crew Marcus, and Craig McGrath and Paul Langley. They're seen here together in the photo on the right after receiving their medals.
"The sailing was quite challenging due to the wind conditions," Marcus said. “It took a lot of teamwork to make the boat work. Things were quite close on the final downwind leg but we were able to get across the line.
"I was surprised to find HRH Prince Harry in the boat so close to use. I hadn't noticed them until after we crossed the line.
"It seems surreal to have won the gold. It is wonderful our hard work has paid off."
Marcus, who lives 500km from the sea at Broken Hill, says he needed to be creative with his training for the sailing event.
“I'm originally from Brisbane so I'm a keen sailor, but in Broken Hill I keep fit by cycling and training at local fitness clubs where I have really enjoyed the social aspect of getting fit,” Marcus explains.
The event was the fourth annual Invictus Games, an international sporting competition for former soldiers wounded in service.
Marcus served as a Gunner and a Medic in the Australian Army in Bougainville, Papau New Guinea over 14 years from 1988. He received the Nursing Service Cross for his work in Papua New Guinea, and in 2016 he received the Bravery Medal for rescuing five passengers from a crashed helicopter in Kabul.
Discharged from the army in 2002 with numerous musculoskeletal injuries and a damaged spinal cord, Marcus then went on to work in Afghanistan running a civilian air ambulance service for the United Nations before returning to Australia in 2017.
The 47-year-old father of two signed up for the Invictus Games as a way of motivating himself to improve both his physical and mental health.
“Before I put my hand up for the Invictus Games it was easier for me to stay at home or not exercise or socialise, which isn’t a healthy strategy for anyone,” Marcus said.
“Since being selected for the Invictus Games, I have turned that approach around 180 degrees and am now headed on a much more positive pathway, thanks to my participation in sport.”
“Getting out of my comfort zone has paid dividends and now sport has become a major focal point,” Marcus said.
As manager of the Broken Hill base Marcus oversees the provision of a broad range of essential healthcare services to isolated communities from primary healthcare and dental clinics, to emergency retrievals and programs to support good mental health.
“Our flight nurses are out there every day responding to people in situations from farm accidents, to women in labour, while our pilots who work tirelessly to help us reach people in the furthest corners of the outback.
“That is not even to mention our mental healthcare workers, dentists, and support staff whose work is so vital for the Royal Flying Doctor Service to provide the finest care to people in the bush.”
“I was so proud to be representing the RFDS at the Invictus Games. It really was a special opportunity!”
You can find out more about the Invictus Games here.