Toronto rolls out the welcome mat for Team Canada ahead of Invictus Games
Athletes from 17 countries will compete in 12 sports
The team representing Canada at the Invictus Games has landed in Toronto.
Ninety athletes competing in 12 sports arrived at Union Station Thursday morning, just two days before the games officially begin.
The one-week competition is for men and women — both veterans and active members — from armed services around the world who are wounded, injured or sick. The Toronto games will be the third and largest edition of the games with athletes from 17 countries.
During their first day in Toronto, the Canadian athletes saw TTC vehicles outfitted with Invictus Games banners and toured the Veterans Centre at Sunnybrook Hospital.
Veterans at the hospital say they're thrilled by the opportunity to see the games up close.
"It's just amazing what those guys do and I'm lucky to be going to the closing ceremony," said Royal Canadian Navy veteran Richard Ratcliffe, who said he also wants to attend the basketball competition.
Canadian athletes like two-time Team Canada representative Stephen Moreau say that while the competition is intense, the power of the games lies elsewhere.
"All the nations, although we're competitors ... there's also this friendship aspect that is probably greater than any other sport," Moreau told the crowd at Sunnybrook.
"The bond was instant," he said of his experience at the inaugural competition in London in 2014.
Along with the kinship towards his fellow athletes, Moreau says the games helped him cope after a naval accident suffered years earlier.
"I was struggling with [post traumatic stress disorder] and depression and then I went to the games and it gave me a purpose again," he said.
Natasha Dupuis, Team Canada's co-captain for the 2017 games, spoke about a similar experience.
She suffered PTSD after watching two of her comrades die during a tour of duty in Afghanistan.
"[The games] gave me the extra push I needed to regain control over my injury and over my life."
The opening ceremony takes place Saturday at the Air Canada Centre. The games conclude Saturday, Sept. 30.