For athletes taking part in the 2017 Invictus Games, this is the culmination of time and dedication to training.
Capt. William Reynolds cycled five kilometres through Toronto’s High Park. His family was on the sidelines, watching and cheering him on with every stride.
Reynolds is now retired from the U.S. Army. Reynolds was injured by an improvised explosive device while serving in Baghdad.
While his mind has been fixed on the competition and the high calibre of athletes he was up against, Reynolds said he was well aware of the face-off between professional sports and U.S. President Donald Trump.
“Everyone has their right to demonstrate their beliefs the way they want to,” he said, in response to NFL players taking a knee during the U.S. national anthem.
“That’s what the armed services fight for – for people to have their freedoms to be able to do so. So I don’t find it offensive.”
Trump has taken to Twitter, retweeting photographs of fallen and injured military veterans. He has suggested that kneeling during the American anthem is disrespectful to men and women who have, and are currently, serving in the military.
“I was at the Walter Reed Hospital [(known formally as the Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre) and I saw so many great young people. And they’re missing legs and they’re missing arms and they’ve been so badly injured,” Trump said at a news conference Tuesday.
“They were fighting for our country, they were fighting for our flag, they were fighting for our national anthem. And for people to disrespect that by kneeling during the playing of our national anthem, I think is disgraceful.”
Reynolds said he does not see it that way.
“It’s already started the dialogue. Everybody’s talking about it. For better or for worse, people are getting their feelings out there because of that show of support,” Reynolds said.
“I think it’s going to change things.”
Senior airman Lucas Purser is now retired from the Air Force. He said participating in this year’s competition proved invaluable.
“The thing about recovery… I was in that deep, dark hole of depression for a while. And the art of competition dragged me out of it and gave me a new aim in life,” Purser said.
When asked about the subject NFL players taking a knee, Purser said it’s up to the athletes.
“I try not to get the politics of everything, but they do have a right to kneel and it’s their own decision,” he said.