Invictus Games 2017 close with an invitation to Sydney, Australia

An overhead shot of the stage and all the people at the venue.
Closing Ceremony of the Invictus Games 2017 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, on September 30, 2017. Photo: Corporal Jean-Roch Chabot

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By Captain Cameron Hillier

It’s the only international sports competition where the qualifying trials begin with the athlete losing a piece of themselves. Whether mental or physical, the ticket to the Invictus Games came at a great cost.

For Master Corporal (Retired) Mike Trauner, from Team Canada, it was both legs. While competing at the games in Toronto, Mike recounted the day his life changed forever.

“When I stepped off a berm, and I started coming down the path, it was just like a big [boom],” recalls Mike. “And I was flung, flying through the air, and I just landed on the back of this big crater.

“My hand was blown in half…and of course my legs… – it was horrifying.”

Mike clinically died, twice, as a result of the blast. But he survived and spent nearly two years in the hospital recovering, coming to terms with his new life. Every day, all he had to do was look down to be reminded of war and what it cost him.

But when he found sport, everything changed.

“It gave me back my life,” says Mike. “When I am doing my adaptive sports, I don’t feel like I am in a wheelchair. I don’t feel disabled. ”

“I’m glad that I pushed forward and I am glad that I got involved with sports and Invictus. I’m happy where I am at now.” This year in Toronto, Mike competed in cycling and indoor rowing. He won two gold medals in the indoor rowing one minute sprint and four minute endurance categories.

Team Canada sent 90 athletes to the Invictus Games in Toronto from September 23 to 30. Ninety people who each punched their ticket to the games and overcame tremendous adversity.

Prince Harry told the competitors that Invictus “is about the dedication of the men and women who served their countries, confronted hardship, and refused to be defined by their injuries.

“Some of you have cheated death and come back stronger than before.”

Next year, he said, he hoped to see new competitors who had watched the event from home and finally felt able to begin their recovery from physical or mental illness with a view to take part in the Sydney Invictus Games in 2018.

For more information, please visit www.SoldierOn.ca.

 

Image gallery

  • One man in a wheelchair with a Canadian flag draped over his shoulder, shakes hands with a second man.
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