A young Sunshine Coast man is about to embark on the trip of a lifetime, representing Australia at an international sporting competition for wounded, injured and ill servicemen and women.
25-year-old Matthew Taxis of Bli Bli will be competing in the Invictus Games in London with over 400 competitors from 14 nations.
Matthew will be among 15 serving Defence members and 21 RSL sponsored athletes competing in the inaugural event, an initiative of His Royal Highness Prince Harry.
The former Burnside High School student joined the Army in 2010 and is a Combat Engineer at Gallipoli Barracks Enoggera. Matthew provides mobility support to Defence vehicles by constructing bridges, roads and airfields and conducting route clearance. His expertise was called upon when he joined many Defence personnel in Operation Queensland Flood Assist in 2011.
Despite suffering from leg and back injuries Matthew will compete in shot put, archery, wheelchair basketball and the driving challenge.
"My troop commander kept asking me if I wanted to go to the Invictus Games and I kept saying no because I thought I wouldn’t make the team. He made me nominate and in hindsight I’m glad he did," Matthew says.
"I was surprised at first because I didn’t think I’d make the team, and was nervous about competing. Now I’m just excited to go to London and give it a go."
Matthew said he was apprehensive at first because he was out of shape but that has changed.
"I started training about 6 weeks out from the competition. I bought a shot put to practice with and I have worked with an exercise physiologist to work on my technique so that I don’t reinjure myself and I’m getting archery training."
"I'm terrible at sports but it’s all about having a go and having a goal to help with recovery."
Over 400 competitors from 14 nations will take part in the event from September 10 to 14. Teams will come from the armed forces of nations that have served alongside the United Kingdom. The Games will use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation, and generate a wider understanding and respect of those who serve their country.