The Invictus Games Toronto 2017, presented by Jaguar Land Rover, finished with a spectacular Closing Ceremony on Saturday night, offering a chance for competitors, their families and thousands of spectators to celebrate the end of eight days of inspiring competition — and the best-attended and largest Invictus Games ever hosted.
During his closing remarks, Prince Harry commended the host city: “You have delivered the biggest Invictus Games yet, with the most incredible atmosphere, making our competitors feel like the stars they are.”
The third edition of the Invictus Games hosted more than 550 competitors from 17 nations competing in 12 adaptive sports during eight days of transformative competition. The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 inspired the world with displays of remarkable grit, camaraderie and heart-felt stories of recovery; an encouraging reminder that one is not defined by their injury.
“I was not doing much with my life after my operations. I reached a very heavy 105 kilos and I wasn’t much of a role model for my son,” said Stix McGavin of Team Australia. “Then, I tried out for the track team and wheelchair rugby, and I made the cut for both.
The team environment is what I [needed], just to be back amongst the guys again and to be part of a team. That is my focus — not letting my teammates down— the stuff that’s instilled in you in the military. [These Games] have changed my life.”
The Invictus Games also showcased the very best of Toronto’s hospitality. Torontonians embraced the Games, purchasing every last ticket and showing up to loudly cheer on the competitors, as well engaging with the competitors and their families to hear their stories.
“We hugely appreciate the welcome we’ve been given here in Canada. I’m surprised at the outpouring of patriotism, of support for our wounded military personnel. It’s very touching,” said Ann Gruivarch, wife of Team France’s Olivier Boutier. “For Olivier to end his [military] career at the Invictus Games is fantastic. For his morale, it’s even better.”
It was also an opportunity to showcase the city’s diversity and inclusion, as quoted by Iraqi team liaison Ali Al-Hashimi in a Toronto Star interview: “The Invictus Games was like Christmas morning for [Team Iraq]. There’s so much care and attention being given to the disabled and wounded here. It’s something they’ve never seen. Ever.”
“There were so many incredible moments”, said Michael Burns, CEO, Invictus Games Toronto 2017 Organizing Committee. “One competitor gave his gold medal to the family of a fallen comrade. The men and women who helped their fellow competitors across the finish line, and the children who ran to their parent on the podium. All of these incredible moments have changed Canada and the way we think about wounded warriors. The Games have united us in a positive and very powerful way.”
Like the competitors who pushed themselves to new limits, the third installment of the Invictus Games broke records. From the largest number of participating nations and competitors, to the highest-recorded social media engagement, to an unsurpassed number of spectators and even to record-breaking temperatures, the 2017 Invictus Games eclipsed those that came before.
Here are some facts and figures from the Invictus Games Toronto 2017:
- Overall attendance: 75,000
- Number of volunteers: 1,427 (worked a total of 80,000 hours)
- Number of service dogs: 14
- Hours of competition: 152
- Number of accredited media: 621
The Closing Ceremony featured performances by rock legend Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams, Kelly Clarkson, Coeur de pirate and Bachman & Turner. Team UK competitor Mark Ormond was presented with the Jaguar Award for Exceptional Performance, for displaying true determination and dedication throughout Games week and beyond. The Land Rover Above and Beyond Award, judged on sportsmanship, commitment to the Games and demonstration of an inspiring example of the Invictus Spirit, was given to Team Afghanistan.