The Invictus Games 2017 are officially started!

Crowd of cheering people
Families and friends were cheering for Team Canada at the Opening Ceremony

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By Andrée-Anne Poulin

It was with the encouragement and enthusiastic applause of the crowd, including many family and friends, that the 90 Team Canada athletes entered Air Canada Centre on September 23, for the Opening Ceremony of the 3rd edition of the Invictus Games.

In addition to Prince Harry, founder of the Invictus Games, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, several distinguished guests attended the ceremony to pay tribute to the 550 serving members and veterans of 17 countries participating in 11 adaptive sports from September 23 to 30 in Toronto.

As the host nation, Team Canada led by its flag bearer, Corporal (retired) Phil Badanai, entered the stadium last and received a standing ovation from spectators and athletes from other competing nations.

”It was a tremendous honour to be named flagbearer for the Opening Ceremonies. Now, with the Games mere hours away, I, and the rest of Team Canada, are equally excited to begin competition and make Canada proud,” said Cpl Badani.

The Invictus Games Flag, which traveled across Canada in the past month – visited 22 military bases, 15 legions and over 50 communities – was officially returned to the Invictus Games during the Opening Ceremony by Canadian Rangers and members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Following a number of musical performances by Canadian Armed Forces bands and renowned artists, Captain (retired) Trevor Greene, a former Seaforth Highlander officer who was hit with an axe during his service in Afghanistan in 2006, came to recount his path of recovery. With the support of his family and his brothers and sisters-in-arms, he chose to ‘fight like a soldier’ and to ‘believe in himself.’

“I chose to be captain of my destiny, master of my fate,” he said, echoing lines from the poem Invictus. “All of you were faced with the same choice and you all made the same decision. You chose to believe in yourself — and I believe in you.”

Prince Harry came to join Capt Greene and his family on stage. His Royal Highness then addressed the Invictus Games competitors directly: “Some of you escaped death and came out stronger than before. You are all winners. You prove to the world that everything is possible. ”

To conclude the ceremony, Team Canada co-captains Natacha Dupuis and Simon Mailloux joined David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, to light the flame of the spirit and declare that the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 were officially started!

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