I knew it was my responsibility to use the great platform that I have to help the world understand, and be inspired by, the spirit of those who wear the uniform–HRH Prince Harry at the opening ceremony of the Invictus Games in Toronto, Sep 23, 2017.
A life-changing moment for the Prince occurred in 2008. He flew a helicopter to transport three British soldiers severely injured in Afghanistan, along with the remains of a Danish soldier. Five years later, when attending the Warrior Games, he saw how sport could help. Physically, psychologically and socially.
The way I viewed service and sacrifice changed forever and the direction of my life changed with it.
The inaugural Invictus Games took place in London in September 2014, then Orlando in 2016. It is the sporting event for wounded, injured and sick Service personnel. Prince Harry serves as the Patron of the Invictus Games Foundation.
The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 runs from Sep 23-30. More than 550 competitors participating from 15 nations for 8 days, including Ukraine and Romania joining for the first time. Twelve adaptive sports include: archery, athletics, cycling, driving challenge, golf, indoor rowing, powerlifting, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, wheelchair tennis. A demonstration match of sledge hockey will likely draw fans.
The Invictus Games is far more than athletic competition.
Symbolism of design: strength and optimism
Invictus means “unconquered” in Latin. The idea of the Games is to be a fountain of resilience of human spirit.
It was inspired by a poem of the same name written by William Ernest Henley in 1875. It’s two final lines are:
‘I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.’
The double entendre effect in the logo is achieved using two colours to highlight “I AM” in yellow inside the stacked lettering of Invictus Games. Meaning and inspiration comes from the games participants. They compete as much with themselves as the other athletes. The use of all capitals in both sans serif and serif helps separate the words, while suggesting strength, boldness of the idea to the participant, volunteer and spectator.
The choice of yellow and black are also symbolic colours for the Invictus Games logo designed in 2014 by London-based firm Lambie-Nairn. Yellow is the brightest colour of the visible spectrum. Optimism, joy are positive associations with yellow. It’s the colour of sunshine and happiness. Glowing through the darkness of black, it relates to the very core of what Invictus Games are all about.
The Invictus Games have created a visionary brand.
Individual struggles, inspired stories
Retired Captain Trevor Greene of the Canadian Armed Forces was attacked by a Taliban insurgent in Afghanistan in March 2006 and as a result, suffered an axe wound to the head.
When I got home the docs took one look at me and said if I lived – which they doubted – I’d be a vegetable the rest of my life–Captain Greene said at an emotional opening ceremonies in Toronto. My army brothers fought for me against all the odds. They believed in me in the fight and they still do. I had a choice: to accept the prognosis and give up, or to fight like a soldier. I chose to be captain of my destiny, master of my fate.
He has spent years in hospital and rehab recovering.
Each individual’s story has its own struggle which affects the whole family. The Invictus Foundation has documented some like that of Canadian soldier, Mike Trainer. He suffered severe injuries from an IED while serving in Afghanistan in 2008. He shares the realities of eleven years recovering from a double amputation, and how his wife Leah Cuffe has been integral to his rehabilitation. View the Podcast
Don’t feel sorry for me – I AM going far
Recovery and rehabilitation of an injured or ill service person is the purpose of the Invictus Games and the Invictus Foundation. Motivation to move on and not be defined by their injuries, visible or otherwise. To be recognized for achievements, not given sympathy.
The Games harness the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation, and generate a wider understanding and respect for those who serve their country–Invictus Foundation
Finding new meaningful work is also part of it. A Veterans Career Summit was created by The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 Organizing Committee in partnership with Barrick Gold Corporation. The summit will offer potential employers the chance to connect with job-seeking veterans. Veterans can access career counselling, keynote speakers and informal job interviews.
WE Day x Invictus Games: serving to inspiring youth
Inspiring and educating youth are shared values which have brought The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 and WE Day Toronto 2017 together. Working for months to create a special element of WE Day planned for September 28, the Games will be featured to an audience of over 20,000 youth and educators. A two-minute segment and throughout the program will pay tribute to the compelling stories of wounded warriors and families.
The goal is to inspire youth to take action and give back to military communities. The Toronto WE Day 2017 lineup including host Kelly Clarkson, Andre De Grasee, Penny Oleksiak, Rick Hansen, Ban Ki Moon, and Spencer West, and co-founder Marc Keilberger, among others.
The next Invictus Games will be held in Sydney, Australia in 2018.