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Pilot Officer Nathan Parker

ADF Service: I joined the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in January 2014 as a Pilot Trainee, commencing military and academic studies at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) in Canberra. I graduated in 2017.

Age: 23

Hometown: Lismore, New South Wales

Current town: Lismore, New South Wales

Competing in: Athletics and indoor rowing

Pilot Officer Nathan Parker

What is the Nature of your injury or illness?

In November 2015, I was involved in a bus rollover accident while returning from a training exercise. This accident resulted in the amputation of my left hand, tendon damage to my right hand and multiple facial lacerations.

What role has sport played in your rehabilitation?

Sport has played a considerable role in my rehabilitation. In the early stages after my accident, sport and exercise was one of the few things I could actively control or influence in my recovery.

Throughout my Invictus Games journey in 2017, sport provided me with clear fitness goals and enabled me to experience continual improvement in my fitness and rehabilitation.

Even if everything else seemed to be going wrong, every small improvement on the rowing machine or the track was a significant victory, a step forward and, most importantly, progress.

What is your greatest achievement to date?

Recovering from my injuries and ultimately regaining my civilian pilot licence, despite my injuries.

Why did you apply for the Invictus Games 2018?

I was extremely fortunate to compete in the 2017 Invictus Games and I was blown away by the vast lessons and experiences I gained from that journey. To me, a key part of those experiences was the support, mentoring and guidance I got from the athletes who competed at the 2016 Invictus Games.

A big part of wanting to be part of this year’s Games is to try and do the same for competitors embarking on the Invictus Games journey so they too can receive similar lessons and experiences.

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

It will be the opportunity to represent Australia on home soil, in front of a home crowd, alongside some incredible and inspiring current and former serving personnel.

The person I most admire is…

Curtis McGrath, who took up canoeing competitively after having both of his legs amputated as a result of an IED blast while serving with the Australian Army in Afghanistan.

He won two gold medals at the 2016 ICF Paracanoe World Championships and a gold medal at the 2016 Rio Paralympics. He captained the Australian team at the first Invictus Games in London in 2014 and, all up, competed at three Invictus Games winning numerous medals in indoor rowing and swimming.

To me, Curtis is an inspiration and an example that, despite my injuries and setbacks, they do not have to be limitations. It is still possible to achieve almost anything with the right mindset, hard work and determination.

Being on the Invictus team with Curtis last year was extremely motivating. It helped me to become proud of my injuries/differences, rather than ashamed of them.