Jeff Virgo Invictus Games Ambassador featureJeff Virgo will join the Invictus Games in Toronto from September 23 to 30, this time as Ambassador, where he will work alongside Mike Myers, Rick Hansen, Derek Hough and others. Photo submitted

Hub Staff

Two-time Invictus Games athlete, Jeff Virgo of Saugeen Shores, is getting ready to cheer on athletes as an Ambassador at the upcoming games being held in Toronto September 23 to 30.

The Invictus Games is an international Paralympic-style, multi-sporting event for wounded, injured or sick service members. Previously having taken place in Orlando, Florida and London, England, the Games was established by His Royal Highness (HRH) Prince Harry.
Virgo said that 90 athletes from Canada were selected to compete in this year’s games taking place on home-turf.

“I got to do two games which is awesome as it is, three games would have been awesome but I’m more happy to give my spot away to give other people the opportunity to experience not just the event but the media fanfare, just the fans the atmosphere and all that,” said Virgo.

The Ambassador remarked that the games coming to Canada coincides with the country’s 150th celebrations as well as the 100 year anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge; a history that, Virgo said, is sometimes forgotten. “It just gets the spotlight not just in Toronto but also on Canada in general with our injured and wounded soldiers and gives them that talking point,” he said, adding that it also gets the general public to take notice.

Virgo likened the Games to the team mentality similar to that of the military. “A lot of them are veterans now... so they have to deal with civilian life, so that in turn is a huge undertaking for them, [their] friends and family, but [the Games] give them comradeship back and gives them that team atmosphere as well as being able to participate in sports.”

Virgo also noted the parallel between the physically active aspects of the military and the Games and said the Games allows participants “to get their frustrations out in terms of training and gives them that competitiveness again so they feel like they’re living again.”

From archery to powerlifting to swimming and sit volleyball, there is a wide range of sports to draw in spectators. Sports such as golf, cycling and archery will be free events at the Games and has, in the past, drawn celebrity names and acts.

Also holding the title of Ambassador to the Games and performing duties alongside Virgo include Comedian Mike Myers, retired Paralympian Rick Hansen, Noah Galloway, the first veteran amputtee to grace the cover of Men’s Health Magazine; Derek Hough of Dancing with the Stars fame and Olympian swimmer Penny Oleksiak.

Musical acts will book-end the games and will include performances from Kelly Clarkson and Bruce Springsteen, which Virgo said helps bring more recognition to the Games. “It gets everybody talking, more of a buzz, which is awesome.”

Virgo said that it will be nice to run into organizer HRH Prince Harry again and in addition to catching up, plans to discuss the legacy of the Games, his thoughts on legacy programs and how they can help Invictus athletes and facilities.

Virgo admitted that he doesn't know how much sleep he will get during his time in Toronto between cheering on Team Canada and mingling with sponsors but does plan on reaching out to athletes he has made connections with from America, Australia, Estonia, Italy, to name a few. Virgo said that although they keep in touch through social media he is happy to meet their friends and family who will be traveling with them.

The Ambassador didn't want to give too much away about the 90 athletes who will be competing but did say they will have great competition across the board.

You can follow Jeff Virgo on Twitter @virgojeff and on Instagram @jeffvirgo to see what the Games look like through the eyes of an Ambassador.