The UK is sending 90 wounded, injured and sick (WIS) armed forces veterans and serving members to Toronto to compete in this amazing sporting spectacle. What’s new at this year’s competition and which UK athletes could be taking medals home?
The 2017 Invictus Games – Bigger Than Ever
The first Invictus Games, which took place in 2014, included nine different sporting disciplines plus a driving challenge. More than 400 competitors from thirteen countries headed to London to take part.
Three years on and the Games has expanded to boast a schedule featuring eleven disciplines, as well as the traditional driving challenge. The latest adaptive sport to be added to the programme is golf. The golf competition will take place at Toronto’s St. George’s Golf and Country Club, while the other events will be held at venues across the city.
More than 550 competitors from seventeen countries are expected to participate in the 2017 event. Ukraine and Romania have been invited to send teams for the first time this year.
The opening ceremony takes place at the city’s Air Canada Centre on Saturday 23 September, while the closing ceremony will be held at the same venue one week later.
The UK’s Invictus Team – A Host of Sporting Stars
This year, the UK team will be captained by Bernie Broad, a former Army Major, who served with the Grenadier Guards. He lost his legs eight years ago, as a result of injuries he received while serving in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province.
Last year’s captain, David Wiseman, will be competing at the Games for the third time. Wiseman has suffered from PTSD since being shot in the chest while fighting the Taliban. He won three golds and two silvers in the pool in 2016, and two golds and two silvers in 2014, so could well be a winner again.
Former Army Major Jenny Warren will be one of the team’s vice-captains for the Toronto Games. Dr Warren, a hospital anaesthetist, won a gold and eight silvers at the 2016 Games. She’ll be competing in the swimming, athletics and cycling.
The team’s other vice-captain is Steve Arnold, a former Royal Engineers’ Staff Sergeant. Steve, who lost both legs while on duty in Afghanistan, will be competing in the hand cycling. However, he is also currently training with a view to taking part in the para-nordic skiing at the 2018 Paralympic Games.
Another UK team member hoping to triumph at the Games is RAF Sergeant Michelle Turner. Michelle will be competing in the powerlifting, swimming and rowing, despite having a heart condition that sometimes causes her to collapse.
Michelle’s daughter, Maya, stole the limelight at the UK team’s launch event, however. The six-year-old read out a letter she’d written to Prince Harry thanking him and Help for Heroes for helping everyone taking part. It wasn’t the first time that Maya has hit the headlines either. She won the Laverick Award for calling 999 when she was just four years old, after her mother collapsed.
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