When Benalla Rural City councillor Scott Upston was offered the opportunity to coach at the Invictus Games in Sydney he knew he could not refuse.
A former Australian Serviceman and veteran of several international conflicts, Cr Upston managed to find time to make the trip and help the Aussie team to 17 medals.
With a young family at home, a business to run and his commitments to council, Cr Upston found it difficult to make time, but felt it was something he had to do.
‘‘In the last year the organisers of the Invictus Games asked for expressions of interest for coaching, I applied and was fortunate enough to be successful,’’ Cr Upston said.
‘‘I’ve been very fortunate. I had 21 years as a soldier and I had a fantastic career and served my country overseas on numerous occasions, and I’ve come back and continued to thrive.
‘‘Some guys and girls are less fortunate than me through either PTSD, physical injury or they just haven’t coped with the transition to civilian life.
‘‘So if I can inject myself back in there and help one person go out and feel better about themselves, or feel better about their capacity to go and get a job or do anything in their normal day-to-day routine I think that’s important.’’
Cr Upston had initially applied to coach the weight-lifting team and thought he had missed out before receiving a call from Invictus offering him the opportunity to coach the indoor-rowing team.
‘‘I had a friend on the selection panel who recommended me, so I had the opportunity to take over the indoor rowing program,’’ he said.
‘‘The guys and girls worked hard and we were fortunate enough that they received eight gold medals, six silver medals and three bronze. So it was an overall medal tally of 17.
‘‘The closest to us were the Yanks on 14 followed by the Poms on 13, so it was a great achievement by the guys and girls.’’
The value of the Invictus Games to its competitors was immeasurable and Cr Upston said there were a number of competitors whose lives had changed for the better as a result.
‘‘I met a man in January, he’d lost his soul, he’d lost his selfesteem, and his self-worth,’’ Cr Upston said.
‘‘I saw him compete at the Invictus Games, he didn’t medal, but he now carries himself with a bit of pride, with a bit of dignity, he’s got his self-worth back, and to see that transition was just amazing.
‘‘So he’ll go out and roll back into the community now, his medication has decreased, and there’s a whole heap of good stuff around that which you just can’t put a monetary value on.’’
It’s no secret that the face of Invictus is His Royal Highness, the Duke of Sussex who attended the games with his ever-popular wife Meghan.
Cr Upston did not get the oppor- tunity to meet Harry, but said his involvement in the games was fantastic.
‘‘My indoor-rowing captain was the one who presented Harry with the budgie smugglers and he said he was just a fantastic person,’’ Cr Upston said.
‘‘He’s just a decent human being, he’s down to earth, he had a laugh and he was very humble.
‘‘I was at the opening ceremony and I sat there and I listened to him speak — and he gets it. He was articulate, he was passionate and he believes in the games.
‘‘And having been a veteran himself, and having seen what goes on in operations in Afghanistan or any of those areas where our guys and girls serve, he gets it first-hand. He is an absolute cracker that young man.’’
Proud: The Aussie Invictus Games team, which included Benalla Rural City councillor and indoor rowing coach Scott Upston.