16 October 2018
Canterbury man Grant Philip is rapt to be back in the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) fold, nearly 30 years after a freak accident robbed him of his planned career – and the use of his limbs.
Mr Philip is part of the NZDF Invictus Games team competing in the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 next month.
The Games are the only international adaptive sporting event for wounded, injured and ill active duty and former service members. This year’s event, from 20-27 October, will involve 500 competitors from 18 allied nations in 11 adaptive sports.
Mr Philip was just 18 and in the New Zealand Army’s Territorial Force, with plans to join the Regular Force, when he fell awkwardly from a diving pontoon at a beach on a summer’s evening. He was left a tetraplegic and has been in a wheelchair ever since, but that hasn’t stopped him giving everything a go – he has represented New Zealand in para-shooting and has participated in snow skiing, rafting, kayaking, blow-karting, gliding, abseiling, hand biking and wheelchair rugby.
Three years ago he set his sights on making the NZDF Invictus Games team. This year his work paid off and he will be competing in archery.
“I just sort of lost track of the Army and that life. Just through chance, through ParaFed Canterbury, I was told about the Invictus Games, so I gave it a try. Being back in the Defence Force regime and family has been really good,” he said.
“There’s no one who has an attitude – everybody is equal and everybody cheers everyone else on. It’s a really good environment to be in.”
Mr Philip’s mother, Jill, said being back in a military environment and being accepted by the team since day one has provided her son with the camaraderie he experienced when serving.
And that acceptance and camaraderie doesn’t stop at team members – the family and friends who will accompany the team are all part of it. Mrs Philip will travel to Sydney as a supporter and her son’s carer and said she had also been well supported.
“All members of the team are supportive of my role in assisting Grant to reach his goals. I feel privileged to accompany Grant, as his carer, on this journey and thank all those involved with the organisation for the opportunity to help him reach this goal,” she said.
The Invictus Games Sydney 2018 are presented by Jaguar Land Rover. The NZDF team is sponsored by Auckland RSA, Christchurch Memorial RSA, Fulton Hogan, Jaguar Land Rover and Direct Sport.
Throughout the Games the team’s journey can be followed on: