-by Bill Dunphy
“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers.”
Nelson Mandela spoke those words in 1992 following South Africa’s inspirational win as hosts of the World Rugby Cup. It was featured in a Matt Damon film titled, “Invictus” – the Latin word for “unconquered.”
Those powerful words, and the power of sport, will be evident in Toronto later this month when Canada hosts the third Invictus Games.
Scheduled for September 23rd - 30th, the Invictus Games will see more than 550 ill, injured, and wounded servicemen and women from 17 allied nations compete in 12 adaptive sports. The Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation, and generate a wider understanding of, and respect for, those who serve their country, and their loved ones.
“It’s going to be an unbelievable experience, especially having Kherri and Colton with me,” said MacIsaac on Monday. Kherri is his partner of 11 years and Colton is his six-year-old manager and training partner.
MacIsaac will represent Canada in golf in a tournament on the 26th at St. George’s Golf Club. “It’s one of the oldest courses in the country and was ranked in the top three for years, until Cabot came along.”
MacIsaac is sponsored by Soldier On, a Canadian program that supports wounded, ill, and injured serving members and veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces by offering access to adaptive sport programs and equipment. MacIsaac joined Canada’s military in 2000 and served for 13 years with two tours in Afghanistan, one in Africa, and one in the United States as part of Canada’s aid effort following Hurricane Katrina.
In 2013, MacIsaac was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and was forced to retire from the armed forces. The illness, at times, causes MacIsaac to withdraw into himself and makes it difficult for him to talk to people.
“Getting involved with the Games is incredibly worthwhile for anybody who is injured. For me it’s helping to break boundaries, to look forward to the future,” he said.
“I have started socializing again, getting to see old friends and making new ones, those who are still serving and who are ex-servicemen and women. We all kind of ‘get’ each other and this gives us an opportunity to find that bond again.”
Since applying last year and getting accepted, MacIsaac has been to a week-long training camp in Victoria, B.C., last April and to another one in Kingston, Ontario, in June.
Closer to home, MacIsaac has been supported in his endeavor by Cabot Links and Bell Bay, with both courses offering him some free rounds and instruction from their pros.
As well, he and Colton take advantage of having Peter MacIsaac’s Green Fields driving range close by in Inverside.
“Golf is a very humbling sport. One day you can’t miss and the next day it’s a complete 180 and you want to pack it in and go home,” he said, laughing.
MacIsaac, who has a handicap of 11, is one of 14 members of Canada’s golf team. Canada has 90 participants in total.
While Carson was doing The Oran interview on Monday, his mom, Chris, was in Halifax where she was participating in the Invictus Games Flag Tour. Chris, a strong supporter of veteran causes, was one of 150 people from across Canada chosen to be a flag-bearer.
“We have a very proud military history here locally and in Cape Breton and Nova Scotia,” Chris said in an e-mail. “These wounded veterans and those still serving deserve our continued thanks and our commitment to always honour their sacrifices and, yes, those of their families.”
The Invictus Games was created by Prince Harry and was inspired by the American Warrior Games held in 2013. His goal was to expand it to an international event. “These Games shine a spotlight on the unconquerable character of servicemen and women and their families. They highlight the competitors’ Invictus Games spirit. These Games have been about seeing competitors sprinting for the finish line with everything they have and then turning around to clap the last person in. They have been about teammates choosing to cross the line together. These Games have been a display of the very best of the human spirit,” Prince Harry is quoted as saying.
The Games begin with the opening ceremonies on September 23rd and the closing ceremonies are on September 30th and include performances by Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams, Bachman and Turner, and others.
The Games will be televised on TSN. For more information, visit the website at www.invictusgames2017.com.
“Who isn’t a Springsteen fan?” asked MacIsaac. “It is going to [be] so good to have Kherri and Colton there with me, they’ve been with me through the whole process.
“They tell us not to focus on the Games too much, but on what you do afterwards. It’s to help you get going on the right path.”
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