Five Stories You Missed from the Opening Weekend of the Invictus Games
The third edition of the Invictus Games began this weekend in Toronto, Canada. Founded by Prince Harry in 2014 to honour military members around the world and to provide injured and ill soldiers a platform to compete, this yearâ€™s event is the largest in Invictus Games history. Over the next week, more than 550 military members representing seventeen nations will compete across twelve sports. Here are five stories from the opening weekend of competition:
1. TO GREAT FANFARE
The Air Canada Centre played host to the opening ceremonies on Saturday. In addition to the athletes that will be competing, many dignitaries were present in a show of support for the Games. Prince Harry spoke about how he was inspired to begin the Invictus Games, while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave thanks to the athletes for inspiring so many soldiers and civilians around the world. Invictus Games Ambassador and actor Mike Myers also took the stage to praise the efforts of the Invictus Games athletes. Musical acts were also on hand, as Alessia Cara, Sarah McLachlan, and Laura Wright performed songs that were either dedicated to or written for Invictus Games competitors.
2. A SOLDIERâ€™S CALL
Of all the speeches given at the opening ceremonies, none were more rousing than retired Canadian Captain Trevor Greeneâ€™s. Greene was moderating a peacemaking deal with Afghan citizens when he was hacked by surprise in the back of his head with an axe. The attack left Greene with severe brain damage and blunt force trauma; he was flown back to a hospital in Germany for treatment, though his chances of survival were tabbed at under 5%. The situation was so grim that Greeneâ€™s wife was flown over from Canada in the event that he passed away, but Greene made a remarkable comeback to regain his life. When he spoke to the Invictus Games athletes on Saturday, Greeneâ€™s words drew a huge uproar from the crowd: â€œAll of you were faced with the same choice and you all made the same decision. You chose to believe in yourself â€” and I believe in you.â€
3. CANADAâ€™S FIRST GOLD
Retired Canadian Corporal Michael Clarke won the host nationâ€™s first gold medal of the competition by finishing first in the Men's IT5 400-metre dash. Clarke, who is also a Toronto native, was paralysed from the waist down in a motorcycle accident in 1986. During the first day of competition, he spoke about how the Invictus Gamesâ€™ focus gave reason for everyone to quickly come together. "There's a common bond between soldiers that is just understood. We all have the same background, we all have the same shared experienceâ€, he said. â€œThat level playing field gives us a place to start from that sort of lets us understand each other and really make friends quickly."
4. FOR THE COMMUNITY
Prince Harry wasnâ€™t the only Prince that was busy in Canada over the weekend, as Prince Edward held a dinner in Toronto to honor 87 recipients of the Duke of Edinburgh Award. Recipients of the award are aged between 14-24 and have shown outstanding ability to serve as volunteers in their communities and to develop themselves as better people and leaders along the way. Recipients had completed the Great Wall of China Marathon, hiked up glaciers in Norway, and crossed Badlands National Park in the United States by foot.
5. FORUMS FOR CHANGE
On Monday morning, Prince Harry was busy again, as he spoke at the 2017 Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research Forum. The forum sought to raise awareness for alternative rehabilitation methods for veterans and military members, with an emphasis on sport.Prince Harry was pleased at the quantifiable efforts that the Invictus Games had made in four yearsâ€™ time. â€œWe believed the Games would make a real difference. Competitors, friends and their families told us that the Games were not only changing lives, but saving lives. And now what we believed to be true has been backed up by this high-quality academic researchâ€, he said at the forum. â€œSport of course is not the only answer, but it is a hugely powerful tool. People find motivation and purpose in many different things. But in my mind, there is no denying the impact that teamwork, competition and fun has on someoneâ€™s well-being and outlookâ€!