The countdown is over for this year’s Invictus Games – the Australian team joined up with 16 other countries on Saturday 23 September at a star-studded Opening Ceremony at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre.
CAPTION: Australian athletes Chris Clark, Leading Aircraftwoman Melissa Roberts, Jason McNulty and Sarah Watson enter the 2017 Invictus Games opening ceremony in Toronto. Photo by Corporal Mark Doran.
Competition at the highly-anticipated international adaptive sports competition started with the eagerly awaited Jaguar Land Rover Challenge before the formal festivities took place in the evening.
The games were opened by HRH Prince Harry, with rousing performances by Laura Wright, Alessia Cara, and Sarah McLachlan.
Bringing together more than 550 serving and former military personnel from 17 nations, who have been wounded, injured or become ill in military service, the Invictus Games is an initiative of HRH Prince Harry and will run until 30 September at various venues across Toronto.
Australian athlete and soldier, Lance Corporal Samantha Gould, who will compete in indoor rowing, shot put, discus, power lifting and wheelchair rugby, said the atmosphere at the Athletes Village was amazing.
“The opening ceremony was like nothing I have ever experienced before – walking out dressed in my Australian team uniform with my team mates made me so proud.
“Prince Harry spoke and he was really inspiring. He is such a great ambassador for the games.
“Everyone is pumped for the competition and to actually be here is fantastic.”
Lance Corporal Gould was diagnosed with a medical condition and said sport played an important role in her rehabilitation.
“I’ve gone from just sitting at home and not wanting to do anything, to being able to get back out and be a part of the community, family and friends,” she said.
“There’s much more to living life.
“As great as the games will be, I think the best part will be being with all the athletes from across the world.”
During the games athletes will participate in individual and team sports including swimming, archery, cycling, track and field, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, wheelchair tennis, powerlifting, indoor rowing and golf.
The closing ceremony will feature Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams, Coeur de Pirate and Kelly Clarkson.