Stix Parker has earned two gold medals and three silver on the athletics track at Sydney’s Invictus Games – not that he’s counting.
The former combat engineer, from Queensland’s Hervey Bay, was among the star performers on Friday night but insists the event is not about winning.
“It’s not about the silverware or how many medals you have or anything, it’s about beating your personal bests,” Parker, 29, told AAP.
“It’s about helping each other through the road to rehabilitation.”
Parker took out gold in the men’s IT1 400 metre run in just 58 seconds – an extraordinary achievement for someone who admits he’s had more surgeries than birthdays.
But it was a touching gesture from fellow competitors during the race that left a lasting impression on Parker and spectators.
France’s Guillaume Ducrocq took a stumble during the last metres of the race, only to be helped up and walked to the finish line by his fellow Frenchmen.
The group then huddled into a circle with Parker and other competitiors.
“We just decided to get into a circle, it was an intimate moment discussing the race,” Parker said.
“We did a ‘1, 2, 3 Invictus’ chant at the end – that’s what it’s about.”
Parker first competed in Invictus Games in Toronto in 2017, after suffering from PTSD and other physical injuries sustained during his service.
“I applied for Invictus because it was a rough time in my life, I had been medically discharged from the military and was going through a rough transition and found that adaptive sports was the road to rehabilitation,” he said.
“Those natural endorphins that are released while doing adaptive sports, far outweighed the medicinal alternatives so I naturally got hooked.”
Parker now coaches a squad of 12 to 18-year-olds, who were also competing today, albeit at state finals in Queensland.
“I’m going to go check my phone and see how they’re competing today.”