Afghan wounded warriors compete for spot in Invictus Games

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) Wounded warriors from Afghanistan’s National Security Forces competed Saturday for a spot in the Invictus Games to be held in Canada in September.

The NATO Resolute Support mission hosted a selection event for seven openings on the Afghan forces wounded warriors’ team that will compete against soldiers and veterans from 17 countries in Toronto Sept. 23-30. The Invictus Games are an international Paralympic-style multi-sport event created by Britain’s Prince Harry. Afghan soldiers and veterans are taking part for the first time.

At the event’s opening, U.S. Gen. John W. Nicholson, NATO commander in Afghanistan, said the games in Toronto will be the largest Invictus Games ever, with more than 550 competitors from 17 nations, with 13 of the 17 nations having sent soldiers to Afghanistan at some point.

”This isn’t just about the warriors who will be competing, it is about the support and the celebration of a warrior’s spirit,” he said. ”It is a recognition of the sacrifices that you and the other competitors have made.”

About 40 athletes participated in Kabul but only seven athletes and several alternates will be chosen for the team that competes in Toronto in events including indoor rowing, seated volleyball and power lifting.

”In Canada, alongside other wounded warriors from other countries who have lost their limbs in Afghanistan fighting against al-Qaeda and terrorism to establish democracy and defend from human rights, we will also fulfill the presence of Afghan wounded warriors,” said Ahmad Shah, 50, a former Afghan national security forces member who lost both hands in a roadside bomb during fighting a few year ago in eastern Kunar province. ”We want to show that Afghan wounded warriors can also participate in such events.” Shah was completing in the indoor rowing event.

The Invictus Games include a dozen adaptive sports, including archery, cycling, golf, swimming and wheelchair basketball.

The Games are being funded by the Canadian government, the Province of Ontario and the City of Toronto, as well as corporate partners.