The Invictus Games Sydney 2018 ambassadors are committed to helping us spread the Invictus spirit in the community and encourage Australians to embrace our wounded, injured and ill service personnel and veterans, and the family and friends that support them.
His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Ret’d)
Born and raised in Sydney, a former Chief of Army and an avid sports follower, Sir Peter Cosgrove makes a perfect Lead Ambassador for the Invictus Games Sydney 2018. Early in his military career, he fought in Vietnam, commanding a rifle platoon. He was awarded the Military Cross in 1971 for his performance and leadership during an assault on enemy positions. Sir Peter Cosgrove came to national attention in 1999 when, as Commander of the International Task Force East Timor (INTERFET), he was responsible for overseeing that country’s transition to independence. For his leadership in this role he was promoted to Companion in the Military Division of the Order of Australia (AC). Promoted to Lieutenant General, he was appointed Chief of Army in 2000. After further promotion to General, he served as Chief of the Defence Force from 2002-2005. He retired from the Australian Defence Force in 2005. As a career soldier and Vietnam veteran, he is passionate about the welfare and care afforded to returned servicemen and women. Through the Games, he will look to increase public support for veterans and celebrate the service they have given to Australia, while standing up for those that are at risk of being left behind.
The Honourable Brendan Nelson AO BMBS FRACP (Hon) FAMA
Dr Brendan Nelson has been the Director of the Australian War Memorial since 2012. Prior to this, he was the Australian Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg, the European Union and NATO (2009–12). Apart from overseeing a major transformation in Australia’s relationships with the European Union and NATO, Dr Nelson forged deep links with the communities of Flanders, where almost 18,000 Australians lost their lives during the First World War. Dr Nelson worked as a medical practitioner from 1985 to 1995 and in 1993 was elected unopposed as National President of the Australian Medical Association (AMA). In 1996 Dr Nelson was elected to the Federal Parliament of Australia and in 2001 was promoted to the Cabinet in the senior portfolio of Minister for Education, Science and Training. In 2006 he became Minister for Defence when troops were deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, East Timor and the Solomon Islands. In November 2007 Dr Nelson was elected leader of the Liberal Party of Australia, serving as Leader of the Opposition until September 2008. The following year he retired from federal politics before taking up his ambassadorial appointment. Dr Nelson was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in January 2016 for his services to the community, the parliament of Australia, diplomacy and cultural leadership. In addition to being Director of the Australian War Memorial Dr Nelson is a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at ANU; a member of the Chief Scientist’s Advisory Council; Patron of Lifeline ACT; Patron of Trish MS Research; Patron of the Weary Dunlop Foundation; Patron of Legacy Australia; Patron of Soldier On and ambassador for the Reserve Defence Forces.
Steve knows about the anguish of injury: two minutes into captaining his country for the first time he suffered a season ending injury. To keep his mind active and to pursue his interest cultural change he took up a position in Deloitte's Human Capitol practice. Whilst working for Deloitte he played a game of wheelchair rugby at the soldier recovery center in Darwin and after seeing images of the Invictus Games remarked "Prince Harry nicked our idea" - and the idea was born to bring the Games down under. Stephen Moore is an Australian Rugby Union footballer and current captain of the Wallabies and the Brumbies. He holds the position of hooker. Moore’s first captaincy stint lasted just 60 seconds, when he ruptured his ACL against France but he didn’t miss a beat on his return and continued to set the tone as he led the Wallabies to a fourth Rugby World Cup final.
Sapper Curtis McGrath OAM
Curtis McGrath’s story from being wounded on the battlefield to Invictus Team Captain and Gold Medal Paralympian exemplifies the healing power of sport. McGrath has served for more than a decade in the Australian Army as a Combat Engineer. He has served all over the world, with deployments to East Timor, Malaysia, Indonesia, Central Australia and Afghanistan. While deployed to Afghanistan, McGrath’s life was changed forever when he stepped on an Improvised Explosive Device, and as a result had both legs amputated below the knee. McGrath’s amazing attitude to the event could not have been more optimistic. He said to the men helping him that he would make it to the next Paralympic Games. Four years on, he not only made it to the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, but he claimed a Gold medal in the K1 200m KL2 Paracanoe event.
Leesa is an advocate for veterans of all ages. She is a RSL LifeCare Manager looking after veterans and war widows in Aged Care and works with RSL LifeCare’s Homes for Heroes, a program which offers housing and rehabilitation to homeless young veterans and their families. Leesa is also a welfare officer supporting young veteran families. Leesa’s partner was a member of the Australian team at Invictus Games Orlando 2016 and she was in Orlando to witness the positive impact the event has on veterans and their families living with physical injuries and invisible wounds. She is looking forward to experiencing the Invictus Games Toronto 2017. Leesa has been a Legacy Australia Ambassador for two years and is herself a Legacy client. She and her children greatly appreciate the support services they receive from Legacy. Leesa is regularly called on to speak about the impact on partners and children of a veteran living with PTSD.
Crissy Ashcroft launched into the international sporting spotlight as an Australian competitor in the 2016 Invictus Games in Orlando. Despite suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), eye and hearing impairment and shoulder issues, Ashcroft proudly represented her nation in powerlifting, swimming and cycling. Before the Invictus Games, most Australians knew her as the courageous soldier who took to Channel Nine’s ‘The Voice’ stage in the show's blind audition rounds, singing a heartfelt rendition of Cold Chisel's ‘When the War is Over’. Capturing the heart of the nation, Ashcroft, who had spent 13 years in the Australian Army and deployed to Afghanistan in 2009, was still recovering from the aftershocks of her service and making it to her audition was a victory in itself. Ashcroft’s story is one of hope; clawing her way back from her experiences that resulted in physical injuries and Chronic PTSD, she could have lost her battles back home. Medically discharged from the Australian Defence Force in October 2016 forced Ashcroft into a life she was not yet ready to embrace. But with steely determination she has embarked on new adventures in the hope her journey will inspire others struggling to win their war within, and turn the tide of veteran suicide.
Ian Thorpe OAM
Olympic Champion Ian Thorpe has a passion and history in supporting the Invictus Games. The Gold Medal winner was an Ambassador for the 2016 Invictus Games in Orlando and will continue this role in 2018. Ian Thorpe, a native Sydney-sider, holds the honour of being the most successful Australian male Olympian, and was the most successful athlete at the 2000 Summer Olympics. During his formative years, Thorpe followed his older sister to the pool, where he quickly discovered a chlorine allergy. Only with the help of a nose-clip and a heap of determination was he able to compete with his face in the water. During his career, Thorpe collected nine Olympic medals, eleven World Championship titles, and has been recognised by Swimming World as Swimmer of the Year four times, as well as Australian swimmer of the Year for five consecutive years. In 2001 Ian was a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for “service worthy of particular recognition.”
James Spithill is the youngest ever, and a dual, America's cup winning skipper. Whilst he now sails for Team Oracle USA he grew up sailing on Sydney's water ways, living on Pittwater where the only way home was by boat. Sydney will see the sport of sailing introduced on the iconic harbour and Spithill will be leading the way to promote sailing as a sport open to all, regardless age and disability. In 2013, Jimmy Spithill led his team to what has been called the greatest comeback in international sport. His team was down 8-1, before rallying for eight consecutive wins to defeat Emirates Team New Zealand 9-8 to win the America’s Cup. A multiple world champion in both fleet and match racing, Spithill is both the youngest helmsman to compete for the America’s Cup (in 1999 at age 19) as well as the youngest skipper (in 2010 at age 30) to claim sailing’s ultimate prize. When he’s not training the team, Spithill takes a keen interest in flying (he’s flown with the Blue Angels, the Red Bull Flying Bulls and holds his Private Pilots Licence). He is also an accomplished amateur boxer and has done two Molokai to Oahu SUP crossings.