It’s no wonder Anthony ‘Lehmo’ Lehmann has signed on as part of ABC’s Invictus Games broadcast team.
Since his first visit in entertaining troops in Iraq, he has become a passionate advocate for military personnel and the Games are a chance to showcase their spirit.
‘Lehmo’ has now done comedy gigs for troops in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, East Timor and on several navy ships.
“I became really connected to them”
“On my first trip to Iraq I developed a huge love and respect for the members of our defence force, the incredible work they do and the sacrifices they make. I became really connected to them as a group,” he says.
“I’m personally good friends with a lot of current and ex-military personnel. I’m an ambassador for Soldier On which is an organisation that lends support to wounded warriors. So this is a really good fit for me and an extension of that work I’ve done on tour with our military personnel but also those who are back here and are struggling with PTSD and assimilating in everyday life.”
With so many visits, he clearly had no fear nor hesitation in heading off to war zones, then?
“No, not at all. I’m a fairly logical person and I just thought ‘They’re not going to let a bunch of entertainers get in harm’s way,'” he recalls.
“We were absolutely fine, and on all those trips I’ve never really felt in danger at all. They take such good care of you. It would be really bad publicity if something happened to you!”
Lehmann joins Chris Bath, triple j’s Dylan Alcott and competitor and recent Australian Survivor participant Damien Thomlinson for Invictus Games Today, a daily panel show broadcasting Live from a studio at Sydney Olympic Park.
“Each night we will be wrapping up the day’s highlights. We’ll be profiling different competitors across the week, profiling sports as they occur. There are only 2 or 3 events per day so we’re able to easily cover them in our show,” he explains.
“But we really want to share the stories of the competitors because that’s what the Invictus Games are really all about. They are a great stepping stone to recovery for a lot of the sick and wounded former soldiers.
“It will be 50% heart and the rest is about sport and having a bit of fun.”
“So we’d like to highlight the sacrifices they’ve made in their lives and the kinds of challenges they will face for the rest of their lives.
“As far as the feel of the show goes it will be 50% heart and the rest is about sport and having a bit of fun.”
ABC is broadcasting multiple events including Opening & Closing Ceremonies on ABC, Live sports events on iview and other companion shows. From Saturday 500 competitors will take part in 11 adaptive sports including archery, athletics, indoor rowing, powerlifting, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball and more.
“There is definitely maximum publicity this week.”
But will a sports-mad nation embrace the event on TV? ‘Lehmo’ is staying optimistic.
“I don’t know what the ticket sales are like, and who knows how many eyes will switch on the ABC?,” he replies.
“But Australia is falling over itself for the Duke and the Duchess of Sussex so there is definitely maximum publicity this week. I have a really good feeling there will be a lot of eyes on the Invictus Games and I think people will warm to the competitors. So I’m hoping we will be pleasantly surprised about the engagement it gets.
“I know we say sport is about competing and not winning, but with the Invictus Games that’s absolutely the truth.”
Opening Ceremony, Saturday 20 October 7.30pm.
Invictus Games (daily highlights) Daily at 5.00pm from Sunday 21 October
Invictus Games Today Sunday 21 October 7.40pm + Weeknights 8pm
Closing Ceremony Saturday 27 October 7.30pm