Friday at the Invictus Games had ice hockey, swimming and a horse named Invictus
By John Groth
Athletes try sled hockey during the exhibition at the 2017 Invictus Games. (Photo by Courtney Verrill)
TORONTO – For Ivan Sears, competing in the para ice hockey exhibition was so worth it Friday at the 2017 Invictus Games.
The Team USA member and Marine Corps active duty member added some more ice time experience, helped give some military athletes some sled tips and even showcased some offensive prowess.
Sears scored two goals and assisted on a third to help Team Gold to a 3-3 tie against Team Black at the Mastercard Centre in Toronto.
6-year-old horse, now named Invictus, gets pet after he officially gets his name at the 2017 Invictus Games. (Photo by Courtney
Sears plays on a para ice hockey club team in San Antonio, the San Antonio Rampage, but the bi-lateral above-the-knee amputee acknowledged some of the military members competing in the exhibition were brand new to the sport.
“It’s a very hard sport to grasp, especially some of these people when they’ve probably never even seen an ice rink or like sled before or anything like that,” said Sears, who was injured in 2010 by an IED blast in Afghanistan. “So you have to really be patient and work with them and guide them where to go and what to do pretty much.”
Day Seven of the Invictus Games featured archery finals at the Fort York National Historic site, more wheelchair basketball preliminaries at the Mattamy Athletic Centre, a para ice hockey exhibition and swimming finals at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. Saturday’s final day focuses on wheelchair basketball, which starts at 9:30 a.m. at the Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletics Centre. Closing ceremonies are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET at the Air Canada Centre. More than 550 athletes from 17 countries are competing in the Games.
Some major dignitaries showed up at two of Friday’s events. Former U.S. President Barack Obama, along with former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, attended the wheelchair basketball preliminaries during the day. Biden also attended the swimming finals and handed out medals in an event.
Earlier Friday morning, the Invictus Games added a new member to their lore – a horse.
A 6-year-old horse named Invictus was honored as a 2017 Invictus Games member in the light rain at Fort York historical site in Toronto, just outside of the archery event finals.
Chief of Toronto Police Mark Saunders presented the honor, joined by Invictus Games CEO Michael Burns, Toronto constable and Invictus rider Jeff Dale and Team Canada Sergeant Adrienne Stickley.
Dale said they got Invictus from a farm in Edmonton, their CP officer trained the horse, brought him to Toronto and then they trained him for another four to eight months until Invictus was road ready.
“To have a horse named after these Games was not on our plans, so this is a real treat. Again, part of the legacy, the contributions that your men have made to have Invictus now roaming the streets and doing his work with your men and women will be a great reminder to all of us about how significant and important these Games are to the city of Toronto and have been to the country,” said Burns. “And, you know, at the end of the day, these are all for those who have come back who are now ill, injured and wounded as a result of their service.”