The Invictus Games Orlando 2016, presented by Jaguar Land Rover officially concluded on Thursday with a glittering ceremony, filled with exciting highlights and internationally renowned talent, Held from May 8 to 12, 2016, in Orlando, Florida, the second edition of Prince Harry’s international adaptive sport event was a moving demonstration of the healing power of sport, helping competitors rediscover and redefine themselves post-injury or illness while inspiring others through their courage, perseverance and athleticism.
The Invictus Games Orlando 2016 kicked off on May 8 with a memorable Opening Ceremony that was attended by more than 15,000 people, including Prince Harry, the First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama, actor Morgan Freeman and former U.S. President George W. Bush. The ceremony included captivating performances by singer and British Army veteran James Blunt and soprano Laura Write, but at the centre of attention were the 500 wounded, ill and injured competitors from 15 nations who came together to compete.
Among those were five Canadian Armed Forces members and 23 veterans, which made up the 2016 Team Canada competitors. The 28 Canadians proudly represented their nation with remarkable performances in seven sporting events, demonstrating to the world — and to themselves — that they are truly unconquered. The team will return home with 22 medals, including ten gold, eight silver and four bronze.
“[Sports] literally saved my life,” said retired corporal Christine Gauthier, who earned five medals this week, including three gold (powerlifting and rowing), one silver and one bronze (both in swimming). In an interview with the Invictus Games Orlando 2016 Organizing Committee, Gauthier shared that sport helped her combat suicidal urges following her injuries. “And sport continues to do so because it’s still a struggle, but I feel so happy when I’m competing in sport.”
The five-day competition wrapped up yesterday evening with a celebratory Closing Ceremony that included performances by country music group Rascal Flatts, hip-hop artist Flo-Rida and singer Rachel Platten. The evening concluded with an official Handover Ceremony in which the I AM flag was passed to retired leading seaman Bruno Guévremont, 2016 Team Canada captain, and Michael Burns, chief executive officer of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 Organizing Committee. They will carry the flag back to Toronto, Canada, where the third Invictus Games will be held from September 26 to 30, 2017.
“Congratulations to the Organizing Committee for the Invictus Games Orlando 2016,” said Burns. “They created an outstanding environment where wounded, ill and injured military competitors could focus on the task at hand, knowing their loved ones were well cared for by the team here in Orlando. These Games succeeded in showcasing the power of adaptive sport in the healing and recovery of our wounded warriors and their families. We look forward to building on their legacy when Toronto hosts the third Invictus Games in 2017.”
Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence, also expressed his support and admiration for the Canadian competitors. “Team Canada’s accomplishments at the Invictus Games are an inspiration to all Canadians,” said Minister Sajjan. “Our Invictus athletes are the definition of hard work and determination, and serve as a source of pride for the entire country. Canada is excited to host the 2017 Games and we look forward to welcoming brave women and men from around the world to Toronto in September 2017. Bravo Zulu Team Canada!”