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Leading us to The Hague

Meet the two amazing captains that will be leading the Australian team at the Invictus Games The Hague 2020: Corporal Sarah Petchell and Sergeant Shane Bramley.

Corporal Sarah Petchell

Corporal Sarah Petchell was excited and honoured to be asked to be co-captain of the Australian team travelling to the Hague in May.

“Being asked to lead this amazing group of people is an honour,” said Sarah. “As captain, you need to put your own needs second. In addition to representing the team and official events, I’ll be looking to get across to support our team at lots of different sports. Shane and I will also be supporting and working closely with different individuals on the team.”

Photo Credit: Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

Sarah is currently living in Brisbane and comes from a family with a proud history of service in the Australian Army. She’ll be competing in Athletics, Powerlifting and Indoor Rowing at the Games. She’s hardly a stranger to the sporting spotlight, having previously competed in World Classic Powerlifting Championships in Texas and Commonwealth Powerlifting Championships in Vancouver, and hopes to bring some of that experience to the team.

Sarah is a reservist, having transferred out of the regular Army in 2014, and feels lucky to be part of an incredibly supportive team. Her injuries were a factor in leaving the full-time service.

By day, Sarah is now a Chaplin at a school and at the Queensland Children’s Hospital. She works with kids and puts a big focus on building resilience and teamwork. At the hospital, Sarah engages with and listens to kids that are continuing their schooling from inside the hospital.

“I love working with kids: they’re so real and honest. I love setting them really massive challenges, like together working out how to lift a really heavy tyre. They might not think they can do it at first, but by the end of the task they feel 10 feet tall.”

Back home, Sarah also works at a CrossFit gym, where she also runs classes for kids.

“We can have up to 100 kids involved in a week. Parents watching their kids get inspired to get involved and quite often it becomes a whole family affair. Kids will give anything a go and there’s a lesson there for adults.”

Sergeant Shane Bramley

Sergeant Shane Bramley was thrilled to be asked to be co-captain of the Australian Invictus Games team and is excited to be leading the team with Sarah Petchell in the Hague.

“I really want to represent the team well. The role of team captain is so rewarding and an amazing opportunity to help everybody on the team.”

Photo Credit: Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

Shane is a serving member of the Australian Army, having joined in 1996, and is posted in Townsville as part of the 1st Close Health Battalion. Shane was medically downgraded in 2011 and hugely values his team. “They are so supportive of me and others with opportunities like this,” said Shane.

Through the camps in the lead up to the Invictus Games Shane, Sarah and the entire team have had the opportunity to really get to know each other.

“The understanding and support networks that we built from the camps gives us the ability to lean into each other for support,” said Shane. “We’ve got a few characters in the team and it can be very entertaining at times. But we’re also able to see when someone might need a bit of attention and support.”

Shane works on the Health and Wellbeing side of the Human Performance Centre in Townsville. “My role is to help members achieve physical fitness and wellbeing. It’s immensely rewarding. We try to engage in a way that builds a positive association with being active. We run a range of activities like strength training, aerobic conditioning, flexibility and mobility along with bike rides, kayaking and an introduction to adaptive sports,” said Shane.

“Having my own injury and illness experience definitely helps me talk to people and help them dial into where they’re at. We try to help people to understand what it truly means to be patient and kind to themselves.”

Shane has been a physical training instructor since 2003. As a kid growing up, he played a wide range of sports and went on the represent the ADF in AFL. At the Invictus Games he’ll be competing in Athletics, Wheelchair Basketball and Sitting Volleyball.

Shane has a 13 year old son that hasn’t yet had the chance to see him compete in sport. The Adaptive Sport Program and Invictus Games presents a golden opportunity. “It’s going to be a huge buzz to be able to compete in front of him!”

Photo Credit: Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

Veteran Sport Australia is proud to be supporting the Australian Team, working in close partnership with the ADF and RSL.

VSA was established as a legacy of the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 by the RSL and is generously supported by RSL NSW and the Australian International Military Games, the organising committee for the 2018 Games.

VSA’s role is focused on supporting former serving members of the Adaptive Sport Program, including organising travel, accommodation and uniforms for camps and competitions. The Adaptive Sport Program delivers teams to the Invictus Games and Warrior Games.

The Invictus Games The Hague 2020 will take place from 9-16 May. To follow all the action, like the official Team Australia Facebook page and sign up to Veteran Sport Australia’s Facebook or Instagram.