Team Canada unveiled in Halifax ahead of 2018 Invictus Games
By Ryan Melanson,
The Invictus Games comes with all the excitement of a large international sporting event, including stadium venues, cheering fans, and skilled competitors from around the world.
Unlike at other events, however, Invictus Athletes focus less on getting the top results or engaging in fierce competition. For them, the games are about overcoming adversity, and the role of sport and camaraderie in a successful recovery.
“This is less about medals, and more about the triumph of the human spirit”, said Michael Burns, an Invictus Games board member and CEO of the 2017 games in Toronto.
“These are men and women who have served their country with great distinction, and all of them, as a result of their service, have been injured in someway. For some, they’re about to have their first opportunity in years to put on a Canadian uniform and wear that maple leaf with pride.”
Burns was in Halifax on July 25, along with Invictus athletes, coaches and volunteers, for the team’s final group training camp before the 2018 Invictus Games, being held in Sydney, Australia October 20-27, as well as for the official announcement of Canada’s 2018 team.
Founded in 2014 and with subsequent events in 2016 and 2017, The Invictus Games is a multi-sport competition in which all participants are serving or retired military members who have overcome an injury or illness in order to participate. Canada’s 40 athletes will compete against more than 500 competitors from 18 other nations, in adaptive sports like wheelchair rugby and basketball, cycling, track, sailing, archery, powerlifting and more. Canada’s team in Australia, managed and selected through the Soldier On program from a pool of hundreds of applicants, will include 18 serving and 22 retired CAF members.
Team Captain Maj (ret’d) Robert Hicks described the group as representative of all three CAF elements, with diverse backgrounds and different experiences with injury, illness and recovery.
“But what’s shared is that everyone here has sacrificed in service of their country, whether their injuries were physical, or involved mental health, or a combination of the two,” he said, adding that the training sessions at different venues around Halifax have already begun pushing members of the team to their limits and past previous obstacles. Venues for the training camp included the STADPLEX, Dockyard and Shearwater gyms, as well as MacDonald Beach, the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron, and Beazley Field in Dartmouth.
“We’re going to continue to train hard and smart, and we’re going to show the rest of Canada and the world what it means to be truly Invictus,” Maj(Ret’d) Hicks said.
BGen Mark Misener, Commanding Officer of the Joint Personnel Support Unit and Mission Head for Canada’s Invictus team, was also in Halifax for the training camp, and said he’s been inspired by the dedication shown from Team Canada so far. For some, being in Halifax among peers and overcoming social isolation is a success in its own right, with the physical training adding to the intensity of the week.
“These athletes have faced great diversity and they’ve met that challenge. They’ve actively chosen to bolster their recovery through sport, and through reconnecting with family, peers and community,” he said.
Canadians are encouraged to follow along with Team Canada on social media as the athletes continue to prepare for October, and to tune in on television and online for the main event in Sydney this fall.