27 October 2018

Jaguar Land Rover pays tribute with two special awards at closing ceremony

Invictus Games Sydney 2018: Day 8 & Closing Ceremony
JLR Awards are presented for 'Exceptional Performance and Above and Beyond' at the Closing Ceremony during day eight of the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 at on October 27, 2018 in Sydney, Australia.

As the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 come to a close, presenting partner Jaguar Land Rover has paid tribute to the 500 servicemen and women who have captivated the world this week, presenting two awards to outstanding competitors.

Presented at the Closing Ceremony at Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena in front of a packed house, Jaguar Land Rover awarded the special accolades to New Zealand’s George Nepata, who was the first tetraplegic competitor and Edwin Vermetten of The Netherlands.

Winner of the Jaguar Exceptional Performance Award, New Zealand’s George Nepata inspired fellow competitors and spectators on the wheelchair rugby court this week. The award, presented by former Invictus Games competitors Captain Will Reynolds and Curtis McGrath OAM,  honours a stand-out competitor, who has displayed 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.”

“It’s been a very special time. This has been so important for my Invictus journey; 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.”

Winner of the Land Rover Above and Beyond Award, Edwin Vermetten of the Netherlands, was also given formal recognition on the night. The award seeks to recognise an outstanding individual who has truly demonstrated the spirit of the Invictus Games.

In an emotional moment during the Closing Ceremony, Edwin was embraced after receiving the award 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 overflying the tennis court.

Vermetten quickly recognised Paul’s distress and went ‘above and beyond’ to support him, comforting him on court and singing Frozen’s ‘Let It Go’ to relieve the stress. The pair went on to win the match, creating a moment which has shared the Invictus Spirit around the world.

Commenting on what helping his fellow Invictus Games competitor meant to him, Vermetted said: “The Games were special for me because of the tennis game with Paul. 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.  This was a golden journey with diamonds.”

CEO of Jaguar Land Rover, Professor Dr Ralf Speth said, “Having been Presenting Partner of the Invictus Games since they were founded in 2014, 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.”

The next Invictus Games will be staged in The Hague, The Netherlands in 2020.

Sascha Ryner and Catriona Dixon
Invictus Games Sydney 2018