Prince Harry arrives in Toronto to kick-off Invictus Games
By: Murissa Barrington and Jason Ramroop
Prince Harry was greeted by a media frenzy in Toronto’s financial district this morning after attending the True Patriot Love Symposium.
The symposium was his first of many appearances in the city today to mark the start of the Invictus Games, which the British royal founded in 2014 as a multi-sport competition for wounded, injured and sick war veterans and soldiers.
Many hoped to see Prince Harry at the Invictus flag-raising ceremony at Nathan Phillips Square this afternoon. Instead, Harry focused his attention on the heart of the games, visiting athletes at the Pan Am Sports Centre.
Mayor John Tory, along with a handful of athletes and Invictus CEO Michael Burns greeted the crowd at City Hall for the flag-raising.
“No matter where you’re from and no matter who you are, everyone is not just accepted here but they’re embraced here for who they are,” Tory said to the crowd. “These games allow us to come together and celebrate the bravery of veterans from a number of countries, including Canada whose service led to injury or disability.”
“The games are not about reaching the finish line, but about reaching the starting line,” Burns told the crowd.
One of the athletes participating in this year’s games is Curtis McGrath, who served as a combat engineer for the Australian Army from 2006 to 2012. An improvised explosive device caused him to lose both of his legs.
“To compete for my country at the Invictus Games is special. It’s not every day we get to represent our country,” McGrath told Humber News in an email.
The games will feature roughly 600 to 700 competitors from 17 different nations as they compete in front of volunteers, staff members, friends and family members.
Veteran athletes will represent their countries as they vie for gold medals in archery, athletics, golf, indoor rowing, powerlifting, road cycling, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis and wheelchair rugby.
McGrath competed for the Invictus Games in the past, earning a bronze medal in swimming and making it to the archery finals in the 2014 London games.
“The Invictus Games are important because it shows the world that despite our injuries we can still achieve great things,” said McGrath. “That may not be winning a gold medal, just getting out and competing would have seemed impossible when we first acquired our injuries.”
The Invictus Games runs until September 30th and will include many public events throughout the city.
With files from Ed Hitchens and Hiba Traboulsi.