Excitement is building for Narangba local Curtis McGrath as he prepares to lead the Australian Defence Force and RSL team an inaugural international sporting event for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women.
The 26-year-old Army Sapper will captain the Australian team of 36 Defence and RSL athletes competing the Invictus Games to be held in London from September 10 to 14. The event is an initiative of His Royal Highness Prince Harry and will attracted over 400 competitors from 14 nations.
The combat engineer’s life has been hectic since he lost his legs in an improvised explosive device blast while serving with the Australian Army in Afghanistan nearly two years ago.
Originally from Queenstown in New Zealand, Curtis spent his school years living the teenager’s dream of snowboarding and kayaking in the mountains of the South Island.
After graduating from Wakatipu High School in 2005 he moved to Brisbane and joined the Army in 2006.
Curtis said the Invictus Games was an opportunity he could not say no to.
"They will be much bigger than the US Marine Trial Games, so I’m excited and proud to be a part of the Australian contingent," Curtis said.
"There is nothing greater than representing your country, whether on the battlefield or in the sporting arena.
"Focusing on competing for Australia has boosted my confidence, health and my ability to adapt to my disability."
Curtis competed in the US Marine Corps Trial Games for the Wounded Warrior Regiment and then participated in the Mates4Mates Kayak race from Sydney to Brisbane in October, 2013.
This year he has competed in Moscow achieving gold and a world record at the Canoe Sprint World Championships with a time of 48.596 sec.
His next stop was Rio de Janeiro for the World Va'a (outrigging) Sprint Championships where he won several medals, including gold for the Para V1 200m TA race with a time of 51.15sec.
These wins have capped off a remarkable recovery as he prepares for the 2016 Rio Paralympics.
During the Invictus Games athletes will compete in athletics, archery, indoor rowing, power lifting, road cycling, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby.
The Australian contingent will join more than 400 athletes from 14 countries, including Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Iraq, Italy, The Netherlands, New Zealand, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
Curtis said the Marine Trial Games were a real eye-opener because he had never seen wounded soldiers before.
"To see what these men and women can do with their injuries was so inspiring and has made me work hard to be the best I can be," he said.
"Because of my injuries I have had some amazing opportunities, but none are as important as raising awareness about the struggles our wounded men and woman face upon returning to Australia from war.
"I continue to face struggles on a daily basis, but I would not have come this far if had given up."
During the Games Curtis will compete in swimming events and archery.
A key element of the Games is a recovery summit that will provide participating nations with the opportunity to discuss the support and management of wounded, injured and ill service men and women, to help inform the development of health and rehabilitation support services.