Ret. Cpl. William Werth is one of 90 Canadian soldiers and veterans taking part in the Invictus Games, which kick off this weekend in Toronto.
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The games, which were created by Prince Harry, are for wounded, injured or sick service personnel. This year, there are 550 competitors from 17 nations.
Werth will be golfing at the games.
"[It's a] huge honour to put on the maple leaf and represent my country and really embody the spirit that the games represent," Werth said. "I'm excited to compete myself and get on the golf course and have fun."
Golf during recovery
Werth, who is from Plattsville and works in Kitchener, was on foot patrol in Afghanistan on Canada Day in 2010 when he and the soldiers he was with came up on an improvised explosive device.
When it went off, he and another soldier were injured. Werth suffered shrapnel wounds to left side of his body, including blindness in left eye and facial scarring. He also had a traumatic brain injury and continues to deal with chronic back pain.
He had played golf and hockey as a child, but didn't have time for it when he entered the military. As he recovered at home, he took up the sport. That was about six years ago "and have been playing it pretty religiously ever since."
Excited for teammates
Werth said he's excited to take part in the games so close to home. The golf event takes place Tuesday at St. George's Golf and Country Club and it's free to watch.
"My friends and family are going to be able to partake in the games and kind of what they mean and come out and watch me, but also come out and watch all the various competitors from all the countries," he said.
Werth is excited to compete, but said he's also looking forward to watching his fellow Canadian athletes.
"On the Canada side of things, I know how hard our team has worked and where all of us have come over the last six to nine months, so it's just exciting," he said, adding he and the other athletes have really grown as a team through training camps.
"We all have different experiences and different backgrounds, but at the end of the day, we can all really relate with each other and even though some injuries are different, it's just great to kind of get together and work as a team."
The Invictus Games run from Sept. 23 to 30 are various venues around Toronto. Some of the events are free to attend while others require tickets.
The opening ceremonies on Saturday will include performances by Alessia Cara, Sarah McLachlan, The Tenors, Laura Wright and La Bottine Souriante.
The closing ceremonies will include Brian Adams, Kelly Clarkson, Coeur de Pirate, Bachman and Turner, and Bruce Springsteen.