2017 Invictus Games in Toronto

I have to admit, I’m the worst Canadian ever: I don’t love the Monarchy. That being said, I’ve developed a soft spot for Prince Harry. This past week and a half, Toronto has hosted the Invictus Games, and it’s impressive to see what he’s done for the war veterans-turned-athletes.

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During the games, I attended three events: the flag raising ceremony at City Hall, wheelchair tennis, and rowing. It was so inspiring to see all the athletes give it their all. Especially when you see athletes with no arms and legs pushing themselves to represent their countries. We were waving Team Canada and Team Ukraine flags, but we cheered for all the countries, because the country boundaries don’t matter anymore: this is all about the human spirit pushing through adversity. And surviving through healthy competition.

The moment that brought tears to my eyes was during the flag ceremony when one of the delegates told us a story about a veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress, and how playing the sport helped him talk for the first time in six years. It’s easy to dismiss sports as just a game, but it’s great to learn how focusing on a goal can help you get over the memories and experiences that are haunting you.

The other moment that stands out was at rowing. A huge group of Ukrainians came out and would switch spots throughout the arena to be positioned behind the Ukrainian athlete. At the end, one athlete won a gold medal. Through tears, he saluted the crowd saying “Slava Ukraini” (Glory to Ukraine) and the crowd responded, “Heroyam Slava!” (Glory to the Heroes!).

We even got to see traditional New Zealand Haka. So we kept cheering for their team so we could see more!

Haka! #NewZealand #InvictusGames

A post shared by Zoriana Z (@ptc555) on

Thank you, Prince Harry, for organizing this special event in my city. Thank you for staying the entire week, and honoring the heroes with medals and support.

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It’s been quite a week, and I’m grateful that I was able to attend the games and cheer on these special athletes.

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