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.
Hamish Blake has been among Australia’s most popular entertainers for well over a decade. He’s best known for his top-rating radio show, podcast and TV series (‘Hamish & Andy’s Gap Year’ and ‘True Story’) with close friend and collaborator Andy Lee. In 2012 Hamish was awarded the Gold Logie as the most popular talent on Australian television for ‘Hamish & Andy’s Gap Year’. Outside of his radio, television and film commitments and inspired by a trip to Afghanistan in 2008, Hamish is a passionate advocate for veterans’ health and wellbeing. He understands the power of sport to help recovery and rehabilitation. In 2015, as an Ambassador for ex-service organisation Soldier On, Hamish and Australian cyclist Cadel Evans joined a group of veterans in Italy for an intense 3-day cycling challenge in the Trois Etapes Giro.
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.
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.
Anna Meares OAM
Anna Meares’ sportsmanship, passion, focus and determination has been recognised by Australians and the cycling world alike. The Olympic gold medallist’s never say quit attitude has seen her voted the Australian Institute of Sport Athlete of the Year in 2007 and 2001, inducted into the AIS ‘Best of the Best,’ named Australian Elite Female Track cyclist of the year seven times and Australian Cyclist of the year twice. In 2005 Meares was recognised with an Order of Australia (OAM) for her service to cycling and the community. In a career that spanned more than 15 years, Anna also overcame adversity, recovering from a horrific crash in which she suffered a broken neck, to claim an Olympic silver medal seven months later at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
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 in 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 the idea was born to bring the Games down under. Stephen Moore is a former Australian Rugby Union footballer and captain of the Wallabies. 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.
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 (2010–12). 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 14,000 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; Member of the Australian Genome Project Advisory Board; Patron of Lifeline ACT; Patron of Trish MS Research; Patron of the Weary Dunlop Foundation; Patron of the NSW RSL and Services Clubs; Ambassador for Legacy Australia; Ambassador for Soldier On and Ambassador for the Defence Reserve Forces Council.
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.
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.”
Gus Worland is an Australian media personality, best known for his series of television programs ‘An Aussie Goes’ and his role as co-host of Triple M’s breakfast show ‘The Grill Team’ since 2009. Outside of his radio commitments, Gus is a passionate advocate for men’s mental health and wellbeing. His ABC TV series ‘Man Up’, which aired in October 2016 and can be seen on iView, is an exploration of modern masculinity and men’s mental health issues – challenging masculine stereotypes, getting men better connected and breaking the silence around suicide. More recently, Gus founded ‘Gotcha4Life’, an organisation that is working to make a significant impact in raising the mental state of boys, men and their families.