Team Canada – Invictus Games 2018 (Photo by Blain Potvin, Rocket Sports Media)

by Blain Potvin, Staff Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

HALIFAX, NS – Team Canada has landed in Halifax to hold their second training camp for this year’s Invictus games, an international competition for ill and injured soldiers and veterans.

The training camp is being held in various locations around the region, hosted mostly within Canadian Forces Bases Halifax and Shearwater. It involves 40 athletes, three head coaches, several volunteer coaches along with highly-trained medical and mental health staff. The goal is to provide the support necessary to prepare these athletes to compete against 17 other nations for the fourth Invictus Games to be held in Sydney, Australia from October 20th to 27th, 2018.

The first training camp was held at CFB Esquimalt in Victoria, BC. That camp familiarized athletes competing in sports such as sailing, archery, track and field, powerlifting, indoor rowing, swimming wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, cycling and sitting volleyball.

The 40 athletes selected will all be first time competitors to these games. They were selected among hundreds of applicants and cover a cross-section of members who served in the Canadian Armed Forces. The athletes are divided among the different branches of the service: the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian Army. Each province is represented.

The focus of this second training camp is to build on prior training and to refine the techniques needed to compete in the chosen sports. One of the head coaches, Peter Lawless, a Victoria-based lawyer and Canadian Olympic Committee Vice President, explained the importance of the training saying, “Able-bodied athletes are no different than Paralympic athletes. Each athlete has their training program tailored to their individual needs. The goal of this camp is to build on the fundamentals for each athlete and to encourage them to focus on the positive points in their efforts. That helps them build their confidence and provides a positive experience.”

“Able-bodied athletes are no different than Paralympic athletes. Each athlete has their training program tailored to their individual needs.”

The plan is that individualized training programs can be followed by the athletes on their own over the coming months prior to their departure for Sydney in October.

It is clear that everyone involved with Team Canada is focused on their training and technique. What is evident for anyone who has the privilege of spending time with this impressive group of individuals is just how supportive and encouraging they all are.

The goal of Invictus is to harness the power of sport to provide ill and injured military personnel or retired veterans a new purpose and goals to help them in their journey of healing. It also provides those who retired with a renewed sense of belonging, providing them a shared experience much like they had when still in the military, an experience they can share with others who have had similar obstacles.

Even though each athlete has a support system at home with those who love and support them, those who haven’t served may not fully understand the mindset of someone who has. Having an environment filled with others who have similar backgrounds and experiences and an understanding of the daily challenges can only help in their individual recovery and success.

While the Invictus Games can provide a larger visibility for the ill and injured service members, it is also what the Olympics should be. It is a competition that is not about medal counts, but a celebration of the journey all of the athletes have taken and the obstacles they have overcome to show the world they are “unconquered.”