Edge Editor Jiyan Dessens recounts the highs of working with Invictus Games Sydney 2018 for over 12 months, all culminating in eight days of spectacular sporting content.
The Invictus Games Sydney 2018 newsroom is high energy – and densely populated.
Situated within the New South Wales Institute of Sport at Sydney Olympic Park, the office contains four rows of makeshift desks packed with over 30 staff, contractors and media operations volunteers. It’s 20 October and by this time, the competition has been building for over a year.
A running start
We’ve all seen grand finals, Commonwealth Games and Olympics, but Invictus Games is something else altogether. Sitting in the media zone, there are fans in fancy dress, family and friends of competitors egg on their loved ones and hordes of school children cheer like crazy. Competitors are treated like rock stars, regardless of whether they’ve won a medal. The Games aren’t about winning; they’re about new beginnings.
From the start of our work with Invictus Games Sydney 2018, our brief was to launch this ideology by creating content that would excite the hearts and minds of the Australian public. From November 2017 up until the event launch, Edge was one of several contributors to the Games’ social media content. The Invictus Games Sydney 2018 content included 3000 unique posts across Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter, resulting in 19.79 million impressions and 1.13 million engagements across the entire campaign period, which kicked off in November 2016 when Sydney was named as the location for the 2018 Invictus Games.
The challenge was to increase understanding of the core purpose of the Invictus Games and the legacy that the healing power of sport could leave for Australia. Let’s bring this alive through stories; challenge accepted.
Working on Invictus Games, the best stories don’t necessarily come from Invictus Games Sydney 2018 Ambassadors like Ian Thorpe, Hamish Blake or David Beckham. They come from the competitors. It’s an attitude that’s embraced by everyone at the Games, from the fans to the celebrities, athletes and politicians in the crowd.
One reporter almost tripped over HRH Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark’s security personnel in an effort to speak to a triumphant swimming competitor.
Anna Meares OAM threw the spotlight onto French cyclists Benjamin Bouquet and Cedric Arci, who helped an injured Jakub Tynka of Poland get across the line.
And Dylan Alcott OAM commended the compassion of Edwin Vermetten of the Netherlands, after a helicopter upset his doubles partner, Paul Guest of the UK, and the entire crowd to burst into a rendition of ‘Let it go’ from Disney’s Frozen.
‘Invictus’ is Latin for unconquered and moments like these perfectly embody the Invictus Spirit – and every competitor has an inspiring story to tell. After the official launch in June 2017, we produced a content series profiling Australian competitors who were heading to the Invictus Games Toronto 2017, including elite Paralympian Curtis McGrath OAM. These stories share a unique perspective of the journey to the Invictus Games, and the significance of the competition to current and retired military service personnel. ABC, as official broadcast partner of Invictus Games Sydney 2018 and for the 2017 Games, developed, produced and shared the stories of the competitors, their families, friends and supporters across TV, radio and online platforms to engage the broader Australian and global community.
A tremendous sense of gratitude is evident in everyone associated with the Invictus Games, from the competitors to the paid staff to the volunteers. Walking through Sydney Olympic Park in distinctive yellow uniforms, volunteers are constantly stopped and thanked. Competitors want to shake our hands, family and friends are so grateful for the difference we’re helping to make in their loved ones’ lives. The overall sense of community is overwhelming, and it’s something Edge is proud to have been part of in the lead up to the Games. Most memorable through our countdown was an homage to William Ernest Henley’s poem, Invictus, marking 100 days to go until the start of Invictus Games Sydney 2018.
Working with a number of Ambassadors, partners, supporters and competitors, such as, war widow and mental health advocate Gwen Cherne, Australian Invictus Games competitors Heidi Joosten and Vanessa Broughill, and Olympic gold medallist Kerri Pottharst, we can proudly say we have used content to help the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 reach millions of fans worldwide and encouraged them to embrace the healing power of sport. Lots of hard work; but it does not get more rewarding. It was an absolute privilege for all of us involved.
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