Invictus Games: Unconquered Warriors

For the brave men and women in service, the vestiges of war can linger long after the call of duty is over. Their physical and psychological wounds act as daily reminders of the trauma they suffered, and the sacrifice they have made for their country. Most of us will never know the horrors these unsung heroes have experienced, or will have to grapple with the life-altering consequences that follow. This is a burden that is shouldered for us.

Having served 10 years in the British Army, including two tours in Afghanistan, Prince Harry has seen first-hand the physical and mental health issues the can arise from service. As a result, he has developed a deep personal commitment to the well-being of all ill and injured service members and veterans. While there is no simple solution in helping these individuals on their road to recovery, Prince Harry saw promise in the transformative power of sport during a visit to the US-based Warrior Games in 2013. In fact, Prince Harry was so inspired that he decided to create an expanded version of the Games that would invite all soldiers and veterans from allied nations to compete.

In 2014 the Invictus Games were born. “These Games shine a spotlight on the unconquerable character of servicemen and women and their families. They highlight the competitors’ “INVICTUS GAMES SPIRIT.” These Games have been about seeing competitors sprinting for the finish line with everything they have and then turning around to clap the last person in. They have been about teammates choosing to cross the line together. These Games have been a display of the very best of the human spirit” Prince Harry explains.

The Invictus Games are the only international adaptive sporting event for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women, both serving and veteran. These Games use sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and raise awareness of the physical and psychological injuries sustained by our wounded warriors. In addition, the games aim to help our servicemen and women develop a sense of belonging, improve their self-esteem and foster a sense of camaraderie with other wounded service members.

The inaugural Invictus Games took place in London in September 2014, attracting more than 450 competitors from 13 nations. This year, the second Invictus Games were held from May 8–12, in Orlando, Florida, with more than 500 competitors from 15 nations. Individuals from all elements of the Canadian Armed Forces competed valiantly, with Team Captain, Retired Leading Seaman, Bruno Guévremont leading the front.  Mr. Guévremont served for almost 15 years with the Royal Canadian Navy. After two tours in Afghanistan and one in Southeast Asia, the difficult realities of military service took its toll. He was part of an anti-explosives team in Afghanistan that had many close calls. After returning from his second tour, Guévremont was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Rigorous physical exercise played a large part in his journey to recovery. He is now a successful entrepreneur running a CrossFit gym in Victoria, British Columbia, as well as a start-up company. In the 2016 Invictus Games, Guévremont competed in indoor rowing, as well as volleyball and powerlifting.

Determined to keep the spirit of the Games going, Prince Harry announced plans for the third Games on March, 16th. “I always hoped the Invictus story would continue after the London Games,” said Prince Harry. “And having seen so many new people benefit from their journey to Orlando this year, I definitely did not want it to end here. So today, I am absolutely delighted to announce that the Invictus legacy will continue when Toronto hosts the third Invictus Games.”

After the success of the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games last year, the city of Toronto is eager for another opportunity to showcase itself as world-class city. The Games will also coincide with Canada’s 150th anniversary of its Confederation, and will provide Canadians with a platform to honour the men, women and families who have come face-to-face with the reality of sacrificing for their country. “The City of Toronto is looking forward to welcoming the Invictus Games in 2017.  Sport has the unique power to change lives.  The service men and women who participate in these Games deserve to be honoured and Toronto is proud to be the stage on which they will stand as they step into the world spotlight,” said Mayor of Toronto John Tory.

Invictus Games Toronto 2017 (IG2017) is the Organizing Committee tasked with bringing the Invictus Games to Toronto in 2017. Founded in August 2015, this not-for-profit will work to build on the success of the previous Games to put on an event that will capture the imaginations of the Canadian public, corporations and governments, as well as soldiers, veterans and their families. Though IG2017 is still in its early planning phases, they are forecasting a budget comparable to that of the Canada Games — the majority of which is speculated to come from government partners and sponsors.

To officially launch the 2017 Invictus Games, Prince Harry visited Toronto this May for first time in 25 years. This incredible event is scheduled for September 2017, the third Invictus Games is projected to be the largest Games yet with more competitors, participating nations and sports than ever before. Toronto will host more than 600 competitors from 16 nations, competing in 12 sports.

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