Ukraine and Afghanistan win their first-ever medals at the Invictus Games
Athletes from Team Ukraine returned home with 14 medals, despite participating in the Invictus Games for the first time. Vadym Sviridenko, a Ukrainian army medic who lost his hands and feet two years ago, was one of them. He won a bronze medal for the four-minute indoor rowing competition. “It’s what we have been moving towards and working on all year,” he said.
This year, the Games took place in Toronto, Canada from 23 until 30 September.
The Invictus Games were established by Prince Harry in 2014 as a way for servicemen and women who suffered life-changing injuries while serving their countries, to rehabilitate through sport, finding a motivation to move on.
NATO supported the participation of Ukraine and Afghanistan in the Games through a Trust Fund project on Medical Rehabilitation.
Team Ukraine, with 28 members, won eight gold, three silver and three bronze medals. The most successful athlete was Pavlo Budayevsky, who claimed four gold medals in swimming.
This year is also the first time that Afghanistan won a medal, after taking silver and bronze in the men’s lightweight powerlifting. “I’m very happy for being able to raise the Afghan national flag,” said Mohammad Ess Akbari, winner of the silver medal.
Addressing the athletes before the sporting event, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg thanked them for their commitment and their service “and for being role models by taking part in the Invictus Games and by doing so, inspiring so many others in the whole world.”
The third edition of the Invictus Games hosted more than 550 athletes from 17 nations, including 10 NATO countries and seven NATO partners competing in 12 adaptive sports.
Next year’s competition will take place in Sydney, Australia, from 20 until 27 October 2018.