Metro Morning

Invictus Games has Canadian athletes 'pumped'

The veteran who will lead Team Canada to the Invictus Games in Orlando says rowing and other rigorous exercise helped him recover from PTSD after his time in Afghanistan.

Former anti-explosives expert Bruno Guevremont will lead Team Canada to veterans' games in Orlando

Military veterans who've been injured in the line of the duty have, since 2014, been coming together from around the world for an athletic competition called the Invictus Games. 

The 2016 games are coming up in Orlando, Fla., and, after that, will land in Toronto, founder Prince Harry announced yesterday. 

The Invictus Games are an opportunity for veterans to bond and continue the healing process from their injuries, says Bruno Guevremont, who will lead Team Canada to the Orlando games in May. 

Guevremont spent 15 years in the Canadian Forces and was diagnosed with PTSD in 2010, after returning from a tour in Afghanistan. 

He's seen and shared the healing power of exercise and athletic competition.

Guevremont was part of an anti-explosives team in Afghanistan; a busy outfit that dealt with more than 100 IEDs. They had many close calls, he says, and coming home was difficult. After struggling with anger, anxiety, depression and panic attacks, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

One thing that helped? Rigorous physical exercise. He got into rowing and now runs his own fitness studio in Victoria. Many of his clients have military backgrounds. He also sees many first-responders, including police officers, and others who've survived traumatic events.

"I saw immediate results, by releasing endorphins, feeling good, accomplishing a task at a time when you think that you're broken," he said on Metro Morning Thursday. "So I just continued down that road and I realized that I was healing at that time. Now people are seeking me out."

Canadian athletes 'pumped' for  Invictus Games

"The athletes are extremely pumped to go to Orlando and represent Canada again," he said. 

Guevremont said old perceptions about PTSD are changing. It's now less common to view those who suffer from the disorder as weak or broken. 

"It's coming to the forefront because of events like the Invictis Games," he said. "Prince Harry did a wonderful thing for the military men and women."

Harry founded the games after a 2013 visit to the U.S.-based Warrior Games, a domestic sporting competition for ill and injured American service members and veterans. Looking to establish an expanded version of those games, Harry set up the Invictus Games, named after the Latin word for unconquered.

The games were first held in London in 2014 and involved more than 400 competitors from 13 countries.

The Toronto games, set for September 2017, will feature more competitors and more sports than the event has had before, Harry said.

Harry will be heading to Toronto in May to officially launch the city's games before travelling to Orlando, Fla., where this year's Invictus Games will be held.

With files from The Canadian Press


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