Fourth Invictus Games graces Sydney, Australia with inspiring performances by all
Most people today will be able to go through their entire life without facing the horrors and struggles of combat. They will not face the physical and mental challenges that proceed after serving their country. For so long, veterans, servicemen and women have suffered from life-altering injuries and mental illnesses without anywhere to turn. Oftentimes, they find it difficult to find the motivation to move forward and beyond their disabilities acquired during or after battle.
Is there a way to break the perception that life stops after disability? Is there a way to promote rehabilitation for the wounded, injured, and ill service members that fought for our countries? Is there a means to celebrate the importance of sport and physical activity for everyone, including those who are suffering from war related injuries?
The Invictus Games, held from October 20-27, in Sydney, Australia managed to do all these things. The fourth Invictus games to take place, the event in Sydney garnered over 500 competitors from 18 countries to compete in 11 diverse sports. These sports include archery, track and field, indoor rowing, powerlifting, road cycling, sailing, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, and a driving challenge.
The name Invictus is Latin for the word “unconquered.” It was decided by Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex to launch this event in the United Kingdom after noticing the importance and strong impact athletics can have on recovery and rehabilitation, especially for servicemen and women. Since he established the Invictus games foundation and held the first games in 2014, there have been three more held in countries around the world. This includes Orlando, USA in 2016, Toronto, CAN in 2017, and Sydney, AUS in 2018.
Among the athlete competing included 40 Canadians, representing our country with pride and courage. The team comprises of 18 members of the armed forces and 22 veterans, all who have experienced a physical or mental health injury during their time serving Canada. Their participation is made possible thanks to many contributors, including Veterans Affairs Canada, the Province of Ontario and the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 organizing committee as part of the Canadian Armed Forces’ Soldier On program. Since beginning 11 years ago, Soldier On has been committed to supporting Canadian Veterans and has contributed $6 million directly to ill and injured service members in support of their recoveries.
A full list of Team Canada’s athletes was released in late July of 2018. Most of the team were notified in January that they were chosen. They all attended two training camps in Halifax, NS during the year. With regards to the training being put in, Halifax Member of Parliament, Andy Fillmore was full of pride.
“It is great to see the camaraderie of the Team Canada athletes here in Halifax as they prepare for the Sydney Invictus Games. Each person’s transition from Canadian Armed Forces member to Veteran is a unique experience and the Invictus Games have been an incredibly positive force for many Veterans and their families during this journey.” Fillmore explained, “Our Government is proud to be part of the Invictus Spirit and I congratulate all Team Canada athletes, they deserve this and will have an entire country cheering them on as they head down under!”
Andy could not have been any more correct. Team Canada had loads of support coming from their country and other countries as well. For example, Team Canada and Team Poland worked together as one to become “Team Unconquered,” a joint wheelchair rugby team competing at the Sydney Invictus games.
Competitors didn’t mind combining athletes from different countries because that isn’t what the games are about. Canadian competitor Casey Wall said it best when talking about his wheelchair rugby team, “The name says it itself – ‘unconquered’ – and that is what Invictus is all about. It’s getting together, it doesn’t matter what your nationality is, or where you’re from. Whatever it is, it’s getting us all back onto the same playing field.”
The importance of the Invictus games undermines all the importance of the country you’re from or the team you’re on. Everyone participating is each fighting their own unique personal battles, but at the same time they are fighting together to show a positive message about the recovery, resiliency, and tenacity they all possess.