What is Invictus?

Prince Harry started the Invictus Games after a spark of inspiration. The third annual Invictus Games will be held in Toronto from September 22 through September 30

By Courtney Verrill

A team USA athlete competes in shot put at the 2016 Invictus Games. (Photo by Christopher DiVirgilio)

For one week, injured service members and veterans from 17 nations across the world will come together in Toronto to compete in the world’s largest sports competition for wounded and ill military personnel. The Invictus Games started in 2014 by England’s Prince Harry.

The word “invictus” is Latin for “unconquered.” The motto for the Games is “I am” and it comes from the poem “Invictus” by English Poet William Ernest Henley. The motto defines the Games’ purpose, which, according to their website, is “to provide a platform for personal achievement, to compete, not just against each other, but against oneself and prove that ‘I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.’”

Prince Harry grew up with everyone in the world watching his life. In an interview with Good Morning America (GMA) in 2016, he said he wanted everyone to know that he “had a certain set of skills and was more than just ‘Prince Harry,’” which led him to serve in the British Army for 10 years. While on a trip back from Afghanistan where he served, he was on a plane with three injured soldiers and that started a thought about showing the world these service members were more than their injuries.

Prince Harry (left) shoots the gun starting a track race at the 2016 Invictus Games. (Photo by Christopher DiVirgilio)

“[When I was on the plane with the injured soldiers] I thought to myself, ‘people don’t get to see this.’ During those 10 weeks [in Afghanistan] I never saw the injury part, I had only heard about it. That’s how it all started for me. These people are role models and they need to be celebrated amongst society,” Prince Harry told GMA.

In 2013, Prince Harry attended the DoD Warrior Games in Colorado which turned out to be his biggest inspiration for the Invicuts Games. The Warrior Games is a sports competition for ill and wounded service members and veterans in the U.S., the U.K., and most recently, Australia. After attending for the first time, Prince Harry loved it so much that he wanted to see it on a larger scale.

The first Invictus Games was held in London in 2014 with more than 400 competitors from 13 nations. This year, over 550 athletes from 17 nations will compete in 12 different sports such as cycling, sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball.

Prince Harry attends every year and always interacts with the athletes. In an interview with TODAY in 2016, he said “To me, we’re all the same. Yes, I’m Prince Harry, but to me I’m Captain Wales. To them, I’m Captain Wales and for me, these are people that I’ve served with.”

“I’m not asking it to become really boring that we constantly go on about our veterans, but I’m sorry, anyone who serves our country and puts their life on the line and then can bring themselves back from an injury like that deserves everything, from every single one of us,” Prince Harry said to GMA.

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