Here's Everything Global Citizens Should Know About the 2018 Invictus Games
The international sporting event is currently down under for the first time.
Sport has long been regarded as a powerful mechanism to heal and unite both the mind and body.
This concept, alongside the notions of strength, honor, and optimism, initially sparked the idea of the Invictus Games, an international sporting event for wounded, injured, and ill active service members and veterans. The Games, founded by Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, in 2014, have this week taken place in Australia for the very first time.
From Oct. 20 to Oct. 27, 500 competitors and 1,000 family and friends will arrive in Sydney’s Olympic Park for the fourth edition of the Games. The athletes will compete for medals across 11 sports, including sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis, and powerlifting.
"It’s your privilege to watch in the stands or with your friends & families around the television. It’s your responsibility to make sure your children know how amazing these guys and girls really are..."— InvictusSydney (@InvictusSydney) October 20, 2018
The Duke of Sussex, to all Australians #GameOnDownUnder@WeAreInvictuspic.twitter.com/RZGktsSiYW
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle touched down in Sydney on Oct. 16 ahead of the Opening Ceremony. The ceremony, hosted in front of the Opera House, illustrated and celebrated personal stories of endurance and mental health recovery through song and dance.
"When all of you compete over the next week, remember that you do so, not just for yourselves, not just for your families, not just for your nations,” Prince Harry, who served in the UK Army Air Corps in Afghanistan from 2007 to 2015, announced during the Opening Ceremony. “You are competing with different flags on your chests, but you are competing together for one Invictus Generation. You are the Unconquered Generation. You are the Optimistic Generation. You are the new generation of service, and you are the role models to us all.”
Fantastic to see my good friend Invictus co-captain Emma Kadziolka doing the Army proud at the Invictus Games. You're all are an inspiration pic.twitter.com/Q2aIWnVDqz— Rob Morris (@rpmorris8) September 28, 2017
Among the best highlights thus far has undoubtedly been Emma Kadziolka’s win in the four-minute rowing division for team Australia. Kadziolka, who joined the Australian Army in 2013 as a nursing officer, was diagnosed with a brain tumour almost two years ago. The Games, she states, have been vital to her mental and physical rehabilitation and recovery.
"Seeing some of the competitors, you wouldn’t judge them at all for giving up,” David Mercer, Kadziolka’s fiance, told AAP. “Invictus is an amazing creation, it’s saving people’s lives. It’s getting them out of the house, it’s getting them talking again. It’s getting them the help they need.”
Paul Guest of the UK and Edwin Vermetten of the Netherlands during the Wheelchair Tennis Open Doubles Pool B during day three of the Invictus Games Sydney.
One of the most moving moments of the Games occurred during a wheelchair tennis match between the Netherlands and the UK. Dutch player Edwin Vermetten came to the aid of UK player and English mine warfare specialist Paul Guest after he became distressed by a helicopter flying in the air above him.
The former Navy serviceman was injured during active duty in 1987. He attempted suicide four times following his medical discharge and has since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
"I took him by the face and said ‘Look at me. We are a team so let it go’,’” Vermetten stated, before announcing he was able to calm Guest down by singing "Let It Go" from the Disney movie Frozen. “I said look into my eyes and sing the Frozen song. For him, this was the moment he let go, and he did, he literally let it all go.”
Over the past decade, knowledge regarding the true harrowing extent of mental health issues in veterans and servicemen has increased.
In April 2018, the Australian government revealed statistics from a report that examined how working in the Australian Defence Force affects the lives of servicemen. The report announced that 46% of veterans who leave the ADF within five years experience a mental disorder, with 18% living with post-traumatic stress disorder and 17% experiencing panic attacks.
As the Invictus Games wrap up in the coming days, viewers can expect plenty more sportsmanship, further incredible athletic feats, and most importantly, additional open discussions around mental health and health in general for veterans.