With the recent launch of the Invictus Games Orlando, both Soldier On and True Patriot Love are organizing the team of ill and injured soldiers that will represent team Canada in Orlando, Florida next May.
Appropriately named Invictus, meaning unconquered, the games give ill and injured military service personnel a chance to showcase their athletic skills and inspire recovery, support rehabilitation while creating awareness for the sacrifices made while serving their countries.
“For us, the importance of the Invictus Games is to provide another opportunity to ill and injured soldiers to build confidence in themselves and be able to showcase their abilities. That’s really what Soldier On is about. It’s a high-profile event to help demonstrate to the general public the abilities these ill and injured members have and the help and support that is provided to them,” said Gregory M Lagacé from Soldier On.
An official launch ceremony took place when England’s Prince Harry’s visited the U.S. in late Oct. On Oct. 28, Prince Harry, patron of the games, along with Michelle Obama and Joe Biden visited Fort Belvoir military base to meet injured and ill servicemen and women in recovery and rehabilitation programs. They were accompanied by two competitors from the British Armed Forces who took part in the 2014 Invictus Games.
“One thing we have to talk about more is breaking down these barriers around so-called invisible injuries, like post-traumatic stress. This fear of coming forward, as a result of the stigma which surrounds mental health, is one of the greatest challenges veterans face. We have to help them all to get the support they need, without fear of being judged or discriminated against. Not only is it ok to talk about it, we have to talk about it. I hope that Invictus 2016 will remind people everywhere just how incredible our service personnel are, and how much of a positive contribution to society they make,” said Prince Harry in a news release from the Invictus Games Foundation.
The Invictus Games Orlando will bring together 400 competitors from up to 14 nations who will compete in ten sports. These sports include archery, track and field, cycling, indoor rowing, sitting volleyball, swimming, triathlon, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair tennis.
The games will be held from May 8 to 12, 2016 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
TPL and Soldier On have selected a team of 30 to represent Canada this year. Training camps for the team will begin early next year.
To-date, the team has not been officially announced.
The Invictus Games were established after Prince Harry witnessed a similar event, Warrior Games, in Colorado in 2013. Wanting to bring a sporting event for ill and injured servicemen on a world stage, the inaugural Invictus Games were held in Sept. 2014 in London, England. The competition brought together over 400 participants from 13 nations.
A team of eleven was sent from Canada to take part in the inaugural games. Team Canada brought home two silver medals, one in archery and the other in swimming.