Team Canada 2018 Invictus Game members gathered at the Ottawa airport where they boarded a plane en route to Australia. Minister of Defence Harjit Sajjan and Minister of Veterans Affairs Shamus O’Regan were on hand for the send-off event at the Canadian Reception Center.
This year’s team is comprised of 39 athletes. Seventeen active members of the Canadian Armed Forces and 22 veterans. They will be competing in 11 adaptive sports with more than 500 competitors from 18 allied nations. The games will be held in Sydney, Australia from October 20 through October 27.
This year, the call for athletes received an astounding number of veterans and active members applying to fill the 40 spots of Team Canada, receiving over 700 applications.
One of the athletes selected, Corporal Mark Andrews from Garrison Petawawa is competing in cycling, track, and athletics with Team Canada. Andrews says having the opportunity to be connected again to the military family has made the dealing with his mental health a better experience.
“You don’t really realize how affected you are by mental health issues until you’ve re-connected with other like-minded people, and being on Team Canada has really helped me connect back with my brothers and sisters of the forces.”
Andrews has been training every day, cycling and continuing with training plans set out by his coaches. Last month alone he rode over 1200 kilometers.
He is not alone though, close friend Andrew Kinsley, retired Corporal with the Canadian Armed Forces, will be competing alongside Andrews in cycling. Kinsley, a former Canadian Infantry soldier, will also be a competitor in swimming, wheelchair rugby, and wheelchair basketball at the 2018 Invictus Games.
“It’s been amazing reconnecting with Andrew. After we got roomed together at our first training camp, we start sharing stories from our experiences in Afghanistan and found out we were there together all along. I believe we were picked together for a reason and the ability to reconnect with him and others has been life-changing and rewarding.
As the team is getting prepared to travel for the games, Andrews hopes his he will bring his best to the Invictus Games.
“I hope to take all I have learnt and been training for and just leave it down under. It hasn’t been easy, but I want to show myself and my kids that you can continue moving forward even when life sends you curveballs.”