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Andrew Wilkinson

ADF Service: I joined the Royal Australian Navy in 2003 as an Aviation Technician Airframes and medically discharged in 2014.

During my service I served at 817SQN and 808SQN, was posted to HMAS Manoora, Kanimbla and Success and deployed to Timor Leste, Fiji and Ashmore Reef / Christmas Island.

Age: 40

Hometown: Karratha , Western Australia

Current town: Glenfield, New South Wales

Competing in: Cycling and swimming

Andrew Wilkinson

What is the Nature of your injury or illness?

I have had two back operations for bulged discs which left my sciatic nerve squashed on the right side of my lower back. This has affected the signals to the left leg, causing left foot drop and muscle atrophy down the left side of my body.

What role has sport played in your rehabilitation?

From a very young age, I have always been involved in sport. It started with swimming when I was five, then cycling and triathlons when I was 12.

Sport gives me a way out. It gives me the chance to turn everything off, including the brain, and hiding away from the world. It gives me a chance to shut out all the people who told me I was too unfit to serve, who told me I would never compete again. Through sport, I can - and do - prove people wrong.

The fitter I am, the happier I am - about my injuries and about my life.

Why did you apply for the Invictus Games 2018?

For the opportunity to train and compete with like-minded people. After I was medically discharged from the ADF, it was a difficult time and a lot of people I used to work and socialise with just disappeared.

Being part of the Invictus Games team is a chance to connect, if only for a brief period of time.

What will “winning” look like for you at these Games?

Proving to the people who told me that I can’t compete, that I can - and I did.

The person I most admire is…

My father. He started me on the sporting path, with us training and competing together in triathlons for many years. After surviving two rounds of different cancers, he’s still competing, showing that anything is possible if you have the drive to go out and do it.