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Corporal Sarah Petchell

ADF Service: I joined the Australian Army as a Reservist Clerk in 1998 and transferred to the Regular Army in 2012. My postings have included the ADF Recruiting unit, the Sydney University Regiment (SUR), 39th Personnel Support Battalion (39 PSB), 1st Intelligence Battalion (1 INT BN), 11 Close Health Battalion (11 CHC) and 6th Royal Australian Regiment (6RAR).

In 2012 I helped set up the Soldier Recovery Centre in Brisbane. I am currently working as a Reservist Clerk at the Army Personnel Administration Centre - South Queensland (APAC-SQ).

Age: 39

Hometown: Sydney, New South Wales

Current town: Brisbane, Queensland

Competing in: Powerlifting

Corporal Sarah Petchell

What is the Nature of your injury or illness?

I have spinal pain, a shoulder tear and instability, chronic pain in my feet, and instability in my ankles. These conditions are the result of various injuries.

What role has sport played in your rehabilitation?

Powerlifting has allowed me to build up the muscles in my shoulder joint, helping to stabilise the area. I have also been able to strengthen the muscles in my ankles and feet, almost eliminating ankle rolling. Dealing with pain every day is wearing on me emotionally, but sport gives me goal that I can focus on.

What is your greatest achievement to date?

I represented Australia in powerlifting in 2015 and 2016 and, in my civilian job, I work with amazing children at Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital school and Enoggera State school.

Why did you apply for the Invictus Games 2018?

The past year has been a dark time for me, dealing with a back injury, the worsening of my other injuries and constant pain. I was fed up with pain and injury limiting me, when I believed I could do so much more. I saw what the Invictus Games was all about and grabbed the chance to be involved in the sport I love.

I wanted an opportunity to aim towards something and to have hope.

I wanted to inspire others to put themselves out there and I wanted to represent my country again.

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

Successfully lifting weights and gaining a Personnel Best.

But winning will also be about inspiring others with injuries to not count themselves out and helping everyone understand that a person could be suffering with unseen injuries, yet the challenge may very real.

The person I most admire is…

Curtis McGrath, paracanoeist. He is a world champion, Paralympic Gold medalist and Invictus Games multi medalist.

I met him at the Soldier Recovery Centre in Brisbane when he was going about in a wheel chair with shrapnel still making its way out of his body. His face was bright and his words full of hope and he was talking about his future and how he would walk again.

I remember his Welcome Home parade, when he joined his unit to be congratulated for their recent tour and, when they marched off, Curtis stood and marched off that parade ground, in full uniform, wearing a fresh pair of prosthetic legs, which must have really hurt.

I was so proud of him - as a soldier and as a fellow human being - to have the courage and bravery to do that, right there, in front of so many.