Spectators at Invictus Games Sydney 2018 have probably crossed paths at some stage with a mysterious flag bearer in a pink and green wrestling mask, waving Australian and Boxing Kangaroo flags on a broomstick.
The mysterious flag bearer works tirelessly to amp up crowds while featuring in selfies and dishing out high-fives. The man behind the mask, Matt Payne, a competitor at Invictus Games Sydney 2018, has finally revealed all about the origin of the eye-catching mask – and more.
“The wrestling mask comes from one of the carers for a navy veteran at the Warrior Games,” explained Payne.
“She gave one to each team and wanted us to go around and cheer everyone on and whatnot, so I took up the challenge there and I brought it here.”
So what made him use a broomstick as a flagpole? “Another Warrior Games thing,” he said.
“Of course for the Aussies, you want the flag out to fly so everyone can see we’re cheering on for them and to wave it around – but the flagpole came from a bit of ingenuity, you know, just because it’s not made for it doesn’t mean you can’t use it for it.
“You gotta adapt you know, that’s the Aussie spirit!”
“I did the same thing in Colorado, but they wouldn’t do the competitor picture without it, so I walked around there for 10 days with it, and I thought, why not here?”
Matt’s a huge supporter of the Invictus Games concept and suggested all participants were winners.
“Even just to have it around, I’m pretty sure it’s saving lives. I watched You Can’t Ask That, and one of the guys or girls said ‘The toughest thing you can do is put your hand up and say ‘I’ve got a problem’’. And I’m sure this is bringing people out. Anyone who put their pen to paper and put the application in is a winner, no matter what country.
“I just love watching everyone succeed. I love watching everyone even just jump in the pool. At the Warrior Games, I watched one American guy, he still did the 50-metre and 100-metre swimming races, and all he could do was just move his wrist – that was his movement. I tell you what, watching him do that, the determination and resilience and sheer ‘bugger it, I’m doing it’, it’s hard. I cried like a little baby.
“Watching that was awesome. I waved my flag and I was crying the whole time. It’s pretty easy to say okay I’m hurt, if he’s doing that or she’s doing that, why aren’t I doing something? It’s drive.”
Invictus Games 2018