The Australia team, made up of Matthew Taxis and Sarah Archibald, took gold in the Jaguar Land Rover Driving Challenge, which saw 11 nations compete in two stages designed to test the competitors’ driving and navigation skills.
Teams, made up of a driver and navigator, completed an all-terrain stage in a Land Rover Discovery and a tarmac track stage in a Jaguar F-TYPE, with a series of gates required to be correctly negotiated in order.
With the four quickest teams qualifying for this afternoon’s final, it was Australia who came out on top, finishing ahead of silver medallists Germany and the Netherlands, who took bronze.
Matthew Taxis, a former Combat Engineer who injured his back while lifting equipment in the Army, drove Australia to victory.
He said: “It’s fantastic to receive the first gold medals of the Invictus Games. I hope I’m also in with a shout in the Archery, but it’s just great to be here and be part of an incredible event with people from all over the world.”
Sarah Archibald, who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, navigated for the team.
She said: “Orientating the course was very difficult, and we needed to communicate really well. Hopefully this victory will spur us on and give the team a boost ahead of the next few days of competition.
“Being presented with my gold medal from Prince Harry was something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
The British team, represented by former sergeant Martyn Gibbons MBE and Private Kimberley Sterling, finished in fourth position.
The Jaguar Land Rover Driving Challenge forms part of the Invictus Games, which officially begin with an Opening Ceremony at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park tomorrow.
Visiting the Design and Engineering Centre in Gaydon, Prince Harry met former Servicemen and women now working for Jaguar Land Rover and a group of employees who will serve as volunteers at the Games. He navigated a wounded serviceman driver from the USA around the Land Rover all-terrain course before driving a Jaguar F-TYPE.
Mark Cameron, Global Brand Experience Director of Jaguar Land Rover said: “Everyone at Jaguar Land Rover would like to congratulate Australia on being awarded the first gold medals of the Invictus Games, and to all the medallists and competitors who took part.
“We were honoured to host this event as part of the Invictus Games and welcome His Royal Highness to Gaydon. We are now looking forward to the Opening Ceremony tomorrow and an inspiring four days of competition in London.”
The Invictus Games is being organised with the support and backing of The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry and the Ministry of Defence. It will see more than 400 wounded, injured and sick Servicemen and women, from 13 nations, competing at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the Lee Valley Athletics Centre, thanks to the Mayor of London, the London Legacy Development Corporation and the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority.
Tickets for the Invictus Games cost £12.85 per person, per session and are on sale at www.invictusgames.org