Sydney, Australia—Wounded warriors from all-around the world will congregate in Australia for the 2018 Invictus Games.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
William Ernest Henley
First launched in 2014 by Prince Harry, the Invictus Games is a week-long multi-sport competition for wounded, injured, or sick military personnel and veterans.
This year, over 500 warriors from 18 nations (to include Afghanistan and Iraq) will compete for fun and glory. There are 11 available sports: Archery, Athletics, Golf, Indoor Rowing, Powerlifting, Road Cycling, Sitting Volleyball, Sledge Hockey, Swimming, Wheelchair Basketball, Wheelchair Rugby.
Named after the Latin word for ‘unconquered,’ the Invictus Foundation, the parent organisation that oversees the games, has been instrumental in helping many wounded veterans chart a path toward recovery. It has brought meaning to an otherwise challenging existence. Some wounds are unseen. And these are often the hardest to deal with.
Team USA is comprised of 72 active duty and retired/former service members from all branches of the military. Special Operations personnel have their fair share of representation with 15 athletes.
“Participation in the 2018 Invictus Games helps to shine a light on the amazing power and positivity of adaptive sports and reconditioning activities for our wounded warriors, who continue to inspire us with their strength, resilience and personal courage every day,” said Stephanie Barna, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs.
The stories behind each participant are in equal amount moving and inspiring. For example, nearly 30 years ago, George Nepata was serving in the New Zealand Army. His unit was conducting infantry training in Singapore when he was dropped from a stretcher and broke his back. Life as a quadriplegic hasn’t been easy. But now, motivated by the competition and with a newfound sense of purpose, Nepata will compete in Archery. And this just one of the inspirational stories behind the games.
Like all members of the British Royal family, Prince Harry has served in the armed forces. He initially trained as an infantry officer but then re-classed as an Apache pilot. He did two deployments in Afghanistan—in one of which he secretly served as a Forward Air Controller (FAC) until the press broke the story and forced him to return to the UK over fears that the Taliban would make an exceptional effort to target him.
This will be the fourth competition to take place. Previously, the games have faced considerable organisational and funding challenges. Holding true to their namesake, the organisers have persevered year after year to ensure that servicemen who have given all for their nations can still aspire to competition.
You can watch the games on ABC.