The idea of standing on as a cross, you know, that completely flies against everything I stand for. The idea of talking for 15 minutes and no longer. Also, I find challenging. I sort of I looked up about sort of guidance on short speeches. So it takes me to Woodrow Wilson, who is the president of the United States. And he would say that to deliver a 10 minute speech, it would take him a week of preparation. To do a speech of 30 minutes, would take you three days, to do a speech of an hour, he could do it now. And so the worst speech I've ever given was one that I was required to do for Deloitte, which was to six thousand deloitions across the Asia Pacific region, all about Invictus. And they gave me three minutes. I absolutely failed. And I'm amazed that I'm still employed. But the way in which I would rehearse the speech was through my family. But my family lost interest. And so it then became the dog muffin, who is a white, fluffy dog just for your picture. And the dog would sort of sit there and listen to me for sort of like hours on end. I haven't been connected to my dog for the last three days. I haven't had a chance to rehearse this speech. So I don't quite know what's going to happen. So bear with me and be be kind with the bell.
The Invictus Games was all about encouraging people through sport to help those people who had been wounded or became injured or had become ill within their service, within their militaries to recover and rehabilitate. It was around this idea that the power of sport, by getting people to be active and to get them up off the beds, off the couch, to get them to start to be connected with other people is going to be good for them. And that through sport, you could inspire people to change. The Games came out of a history of of of disability sport, which really started at the end of the Second World War that gave birth to the Paralympic movement. But within the military environment, we had to sort of relearned all of those lessons out of the conflicts of Iraq and Afghanistan. And so the Americans absolutely led the way. But what it gave birth to was the Invictus Games back in London in 2014.
It was Prince Harry who was inspired by the idea and who breathe life into this sort of international sort of event. Started off with only nine nations. Two hundred and fifty competitors and grew in Sydney this time last year to 18 different nations and 500 competitors. And so that principle idea of inspiring people to recover and rehabilitate through sport is what these games stand for. It's a brand that is massive. It's a brand that isn't just about people who are veterans. It's a brand that inspires a community much more broadly beside that. So that's the power of these games. Whenever I talk about the games, I will always start off like this. I say that we held these games in Australia to honor the sacrifice of one hundred two thousand men and women who have died in the service of their country and whose names are inscribed on the War Memorial in Canberra. They recognise 600000 veterans and their families who live today amongst our communities and often are not recognised and forgotten. But perhaps and this is the thing that is slightly changed is for me what these games did when I look back on it is that they absolutely are a celebration about what people can do with their lives, not what they can't.
So it's all about the power that you have as an individual to change your life and to do something positive. And that's what these Games stood for. Invictus is a Latin word. It means unconquered. It's drawn from a poem that was written by an Englishman 1875 called William Henley, who was in the process of losing his life to his battle with tuberculosis. It's an amazing poem. I'm going to show you a video in just a second that sort of captures it, but really it captures the spirit of what these games are about. I have outsourced parts of this presentation to a couple of great videos. It's much better than hearing me talk. So I hope you enjoy it.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole.
I thank whatever the gods may be, for my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance. I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance, my head is bloody but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears, looms but the horror of the shade and yet the menace of the years.
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how straight the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul. I am the captain of my soul.
That's just a minute.
Oh, I've gone to perfect so the games, there are small games, 490 competitors from 18 different nations. The qualification to be a part of the games is, is the numbers, the casualties that you've sustained in the war of the last 20 years in Iraq and Afghanistan. So every nation has lost a great many people. So many more people have been damaged either physically or mentally, often both as a result of those those those wars. They range from countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand to countries like Jordan, Afghanistan, Iraq.
It's interesting to note that one of our key metrics of success out of the last games was the fact that the Afghanistan team absconded to a man after the closing ceremony. We view that as a metric of success because in the Commonwealth Games they absconded at the start of the Games. They actually went all the way through to the end of our games. So that's great. So the competitors were the heart and soul of what these games stood for. Everything was about their experience because we're trying to use sport as a vehicle to encourage them to be involved. There are no medals. There are lots of medals, but there are no medals. We have no tally of who won the most medals because actually what it's about is about trying to get anybody and everybody, young, middle aged, old, to use sport as their vehicle to move forwards. Each nation approaches it in a different way so that some nations will have a completely new team every year. Other nations will have the same people coming each and every year.
But the essence of it is about this idea of getting people to be active through their sport. We had 13 medals, sports having just said, there are no medals and there were two non medal sports. What's intriguing about it and what made this event so complicated is that we had to create a schedule of events that encourage people to do as many sports as they wanted. So for the indoor rowing of the 490 competitors that were there, 370 of them took part in the indoor rowing for the athletics, 360 of them took part in the athletics. So you can sort of imagine the complexity of scheduling an event like that that is completely focused around creating this amazing experience for the individuals that participate in it. They were held here a fantastic job by New South Wales and Sydney Olympic Park to create this great atmosphere that brought these people together. We focus absolutely on the 1000 family and friends that came with them, because the journey of recovery and rehabilitation is always the ultimate team sport.
It's around recognising that the family plays such an important part in the person who is in the running race or playing wheelchair rugby. And the fact that they got to that point is a celebration not only of that individual who is there as the competitor, but it's also a celebration of the families and the friends that have gotten to that point in the first place. And we perhaps don't often talk about that enough.
The surprise for me out of the games was the twelve hundred volunteers when I sort of assumed that sort of like volunteering was just like volunteering. It's not like that at all. I mean, the volunteers were completely connected with what was happening. They were absolutely getting the same therapy, the same benefit, the same degree of connection as the competitors were in their family and friends. So it was a really interesting social dynamic that was created by this extraordinary event that was created.
The people, I think, are interesting. So the nature of warfare over 100 years, over 200 years and the impact it has upon people hasn't really changed. The numbers of individuals that lose their lives on the battlefield, that has changed. It's less, thank heavens. But the number of people that are injured mentally and physically has increased because actually their lives have been changed forever. But they have to learn to cope with that. But before they would lost their lives.
I think these three pictures for me sort of sum it up on the left hand side. You've got this character. Call Sergeant Berry. It's 20. So it's 1919. It's the end of the First World War. It's everybody in the United Kingdom or France waiting to be demobilized back to their home nations. He's part of the Australian imperial force that fought on the trenches in France. He took part. They created something to occupy the troops called the Inter Allied Games. The only qualification to be in those games is the fact that you have to fought in the trenches in France. So Sergeant Barry takes part in the 100 yards freestyle swimming competition. Able bodied and disabled, and he wins it with one leg. Unbelievable.
The guy in the middle is a guy called Curtis McGraw. He got blown up by a mine in Afghanistan about five years ago. He's in the helicopter being evacuated off the battlefield. He would have been given his morphine. He's having a conversation with the medics. And he said, hey, I'm legs. And they said, Kurt, your legs are pretty much done. And he goes, Brilliant. I can now go to Rio and get myself a gold medal, a gold medal. So he goes to Rio for four years later, having gone through the Invictus Games in London, the Invictus Games in America. And he wins a gold medal in kayaking in Rio. He's now literally just defended for the 10th time his world championship status as a kayaker. Unbelievable individual. The person on the right is Gwen Churn, whose husband committed suicide two years ago. So she's not a soldier, but she's a family person. And the impact that service has had upon her and her family has been unbelievable. In terms of the impact that it's had, not on just her, but her family, her family's family. And so when you think about the impact of service and what it means, it's not just the guys on the left who've been physically injured. And there was a comment made previously about, you know, what exactly is an injury and does everybody have an equal injury and what does it mean? You know, it's actually guys like that who are in Curtis would say, you know, for him, it's easy because everyone understands who he is. He's a he's an absolute rock star. And he's easily recognizable. It's all the hidden wounds that sit beneath it that are the things that are so challenging that people have to deal with. And that's what Gwen Churn has to deal with each and every day. An amazing lady who is advocating on behalf of mental health and suicide prevention in our world today.
So the games were the games, but everything was always so much more than the games, it was about trying to create an event that hadn't appeared, an attraction that would bring people to the table. It would force opinion, force politicians to take a view, to change their opinions, to shift policy. Because all of a sudden they were seeing this stuff play out in front of them. It was about bringing together a fragmented military community, using the brand, and it was about inspiring the community as a whole. And when I look back on the games to think that they were watched by over 8 million Australians across Australia, that's an absolute impact upon our community, watched by probably 100 million people across the world. That's an impact in our global world.
But really, that legacy that we tried so hard to deliver was relatively simple. It's firstly about maintaining an active life through sport. Because when you're active, you then connect with other people. You didn't do that. It's about educating our people about what it is that's good for them, but also educating our children. So over 50000 New South Wales schoolchildren took part in an Invictus Games education program. And if only half of those remember that experience that's 25000 schoolchildren. That's a massive impact. It was also about showcasing the incredible capabilities of these people, because the challenge in my world is how do you find your way? Having served in the military for a period of time, be it one year or 30 years into purposeful work that you believe in. Eighty five veterans committed suicide in Australia in 2018. 22 Veterans in America commit suicide every single day. And the reason for that are men. But one of the fundamental reasons is the fact that they struggle to find their way back into a community of people that embraces them and that they can lead purposeful and worthwhile lives. So that's what we were trying to get to the games and we were halfway successful. We always could have done more. And that's why I do what I do now, which is around trying to help events realise their opportunity through designing the impact that you want to have. Last bit of video. It's all good. Great video. And this really wraps it up in in terms of what was achieved. And I think the sort of the the success and the impact of the games and what it had on individuals.
The Invictus generation is defining what it means to serve. It's your privilege to watch in the stands or with your friends and families around the television. Show The World, what game on Down Under really means.
This is Invictus Games Sydney all of this. All the people or the kids cheering everyone. It's amazing what these people all can do. It's bringing out a lot. A lot.
Sport. Everyone else. The matter if they are your team or not. If you met him on not playing, that's what do you think his spirit is?
Well, I don't care if I win a medal or not long as I finish the race.
I'm proud to be here. And it's a big one to present my nation. Every minute has been to such a life altering experience.
Invictus Games, for me, is a respect for camaraderie and mateship and also to be always learning.
It's a celebration of the phenomenal human spirit. This is my chance to course correct.
This is something something great, something awesome and this is new sports for me.
And take care of yourself and be the special person that you can be.
So we're super proud of what we achieved, an amazing team of people who helped to bring it together and make it happen. Incredible supporters from across the federal government in New South Wales government. And I think a real example about what it is you can do with these types of events to showcase an amazing collection of people in our communities. Thank you for your time.