Adaptive Sports: The Invictus Games

Adaptive International Sports Competition for Wounded Warriors

wounded warrior
Va.gov

Adaptive Sports is not just for Wounded Warriors but for anyone disabled or injured. There are even high school adaptive sports teams in public schools, so the acceptance of these athletes as competitors is growing widely across the country and even the world.  Thanks to many great Veteran programs, American and Allied Veterans and Organizations, these events are becoming an integral part of acceptance and recovery for all participants.

The Department of Veterans Affairs announces annually the schedule for various competitions around the globe.  (See Dept of VA Website / Video

The Invictus Games

The most popular World Games of Adaptive Sports Competition is the Invictus Games.  Invictus is Latin for UNCONQUERED and the INVICTUS GAMES is partly responsible for making Adaptive Sports more popular with the International Community. The Invictus Games are the brainchild of Prince Harry of Wales.  As a war veteran himself, Prince Harry was a guest in 2013 at the U.S. Department of Defense Warrior Games where wounded warriors compete as a branch of service teams in adaptive athletic competitions. After witnessing the spirit and enjoyment the competitors were having, Prince Harry wanted to take the Warrior Games international and the following year created the first Invictus Games, held in London. The U.S. Department of Defense and Department of Veteran Affairs use Adaptive Sports as part of the healing process for injured service members and veterans.

The Invictus Games

Like the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, the Invictus Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation, and generate a wider understanding and respect for wounded Service People. Coaching and research in equipment and gear for the athletes enable vast improvements in prosthesis, training methodology, and technology.

In fact, recently in Switzerland, the Cybathlon Competition took place where teams of mechanic engineers, designers, computer programmers, prosthetic companies and adaptive sports athletes organized as teams to maneuver over and through a large variety of athletic and daily tasks from exo-skeleton races to pouring glasses of water. 

The Invictus Games have grown to more than 500 wounded warriors of 15 nations: Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Netherlands, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and the United States.  ESPN also featured live events and more than 40 hours of television coverage to the opening/closing ceremonies, special features, and events. 

The 2016 Invictus Games held in Orlando, FL feature the following ten sporting events that are both team and individual competition: Archery, Indoor Rowing, Powerlifting, Road cycling, Sitting Volleyball, Swimming, Track and Field, Wheelchair Basketball, Wheelchair Rugby, and Wheelchair Tennis.

The 2017 Invictus Games were held in Toronto, Canada.

There are many other Department of Defense and Veteran Affairs programs featuring Adaptive Sports as a model for helping the wounded service members and veterans.

The Valor Games

From the official VA government website:  The Valor Games promotes healthy, active lifestyles and is important to successful community reintegration.  The Valor Games proudly support such endeavors. World Sport Chicago hosted the first Valor Games in 2011 and all regional events are organized in partnership with U.S. Paralympics and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Through Adaptive Sports and events like the aforementioned athletic competitions, the Wounded Warrior will:

  • Experience the feeling of being a part of something again
  • Have pride in a new mission in life
  • De-stress through physical activity
  • Enjoy the camaraderie of team and competition
  • And most importantly have an improved quality of life

In the Spirit of the Invictus Games, the competitor’s inspirational motto is:

We Came, We Saw, We’re UNCONQUERED

Department of Defense and Veteran's Affairs

For more than a decade the U.S. Department of Defense and Department of Veteran Affairs have been using competitive sport as a method to heal wounded soldiers (both physically and mentally).  The opportunity for the injured Veterans to have a physical outlet on a team gives hope to those who come home with a "new normal".  The wounded warriors' new active lifestyle that is created by their competitive spirit and a physical outlet is both cathartic and strength building.  There are many opportunities to participate in these type of programs across the United States as each region of the VA have a variety of training events, competitions, and practices for these Adaptive Sports Athletes.