With an inspirational speech delivered by Prince Henry of Wales, more commonly known as Prince Harry, the 2017 edition of the Invictus Games kicked off in Toronto after a ceremony that attracted considerable media attention. The Invictus Games is an international sporting competition that brings together military veterans whose lives have been affected by injuries or sickness; this event is part of the Invictus Games Foundation formed by Prince Harry in 2014 after his experiences in Afghanistan during the War on Terror.
Prince Harry, son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, is a war veteran and former officer of the British Army Air Corps. While preparing to deploy for his first assignment in Afghanistan, he was moved by his interaction with wounded British soldiers. Later in life, the Prince attended a Warrior Games event in the United States, where he was impressed by the courage of veteran athletes living with disability conditions. The Invictus Games Foundation not only provides a venue for these veterans but also works to promote awareness about the life challenges faced by these brave men and women.
Competitors at the Invictus Games come from various allied nations; the sporting events range from wheelchair basketball to swimming and from sitting volleyball to paralympic track and field. Two of the competitors representing the United States Armed Forces are African-Americans who have previously competed in the Warrior Games:
A native of Minneapolis, Sharona Young was awarded a medical retirement from the US Navy after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis while assigned to AFRICOM, the US Africa Command. Getting around on a wheelchair is not a problem for this brave woman, who has been competing in various sporting tournaments over the years. In the past, Young has competed in the archery, wheelchair tennis, bowling, and even bobsledding events.
This retired Master Sergeant in the US Army is one of the best Invictus Games athletes in the wheelchair tennis competition. He was assigned to the Special Operations Command and would later suffer a motorcycle accident that left him partially paralyzed. Better known as “RJ” to his friends, Anderson has been competing in wheelchair events over the last few years.
The Invictus Games opening ceremony was attended by First Lady Melania Trump of the United States and by Hollywood actress Meghan Markle, a woman who seems to have stolen the heart of Prince Harry. The British Royal took advantage of the media coverage to remind the public that the sacrifices made by military veterans should not be forgotten not only due to their prior service but also because of their courage in overcoming their life conditions.