A pair of budgie smugglers stole the show at the Invictus Games events in Sydney today — and there wasn’t even a pool in sight.
A colourful crowd of thousands lined the streets of the Royal Botanical Gardens in the Sydney city centre this morning to watch the cycling events in the games’ first official day of competition.
Prince Harry drew the biggest crowd of the day as he presented medals to the winning athletes.
But it was a presentation of a different kind from the Australian team that drew some raised eyebrows from the Prince himself.
Three Aussie team members presented the Duke of Sussex with a special Invictus pair of budgie smugglers for him to sign.
The Prince politely declined the offer.
Damien Irish, whose idea it was to get the bathers signed, said he played water polo against Prince Harry in 2005 and that the very Aussie offer still stood.
“He told us he’d love to sign them but he wasn’t allowed to,” he said.
“But he was great. He just asked about our sports and what we were doing — he’s a great guy.”
Later, when touring through the gardens, the Prince was asked by a member of the large crowd where his wife, Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, was.
“She’s resting at home,” he said.
“Being pregnant takes its toll.”
While walking to an official event inside the Botanical Gardens he waved to fans and stopped to help push a competitor in a wheelchair up a curb.
He left in a motorcade about 1:15pm as the huge crowd waved and cheered.
Former Navy medic’s proud moment
It was a good morning for Australian competitor Emily Mysko.
For one the cyclist, who is also competing in the rowing tomorrow, got a selfie with Prince Harry.
But more importantly she won a silver medal.
Surrounded by her family who had travelled from as far as Adelaide to watch her compete, Mysko said it was a proud moment.
“To win a medal with my daughter here is so special,” she said.
“The crowd was fantastic. They really got me over the line. I could hear them when I hit the hill, it was electric.”
The former Navy medic has come a long way.
After she was medically discharged in 2015, Mysko had three stints in a psychiatric facility.
She joined the Invictus pathways program and said the goal-setting in sport had levelled her.
She said she had “unfinished business” at the games.
“I’ve still got another one tomorrow (the rowing event).
“But it’s a good start.”
Fans fill the Botanic Gardens
It was a carnival atmosphere at the Botanical Gardens, with flags from all nations lining the finishing line at the cycling event.
But one flag, in the form of a human body, stood out.
Kathy Corrigan, dressed head to toe in the Union Jack, had travelled all the way from Devon in southern England specifically for the Invictus Games.
She said she had been planning the trip for months.
“When I heard it was going to be here I booked my tickets straight away,” she said.
“I love it. It’s such a great event … and I even managed to get to Bondi Beach as well.”
Ms Corrigan said she planned to attend events every day.
“It’s cost me a bit of money but it’s all worth it.”
Many of the competitors have made big sacrifices to get to Sydney, but on the topic of commitment, Paul ‘Bulldog’ Guest takes the cake.
The UK competitor had the Invictus Games symbol tattooed on his face.
He said he planned to get the Australian flag and a “Sydney” tattoo later in the week.
Sailing events at Farm Cove in the Sydney Harbour are taking place on Sunday afternoon, with more events throughout the week.