Harry, Meghan to make a Games of it?

Toronto Sun - - NEWS - — Christina Bliz­zard

Get ready for your closeup, Toronto. All eyes will be on this city next week — and it’s all thanks to Prince Harry.

The pop­u­lar Royal red­head will be in town for the In­vic­tus Games — his project and his way of hon­our­ing men and women who’ve been wounded — phys­i­cally or men­tally — in ser­vice to their coun­try’s mil­i­tary.

All signs say Harry will use the In­vic­tus Games as a plat­form to pub­licly say his ro­mance with Toronto res­i­dent Meghan Markle is se­ri­ous.

This will be the first time the two will of­fi­cially be seen to­gether. Me­dia from around the world are cir­cling, look­ing for the chance to grab that one big money shot of the happy cou­ple.

It’s no se­cret Harry has been mak­ing fly­ing vis­its to this city for more than a year as he has pur­sued the raven-haired Amer­i­can ac­tress who has cap­tured his heart.

Go­ing pub­lic next week is a savvy move by Harry.

It guar­an­tees these will become the most high-pro­file In­vic­tus Games ever.

And Harry will do what­ever it takes to shine the spotlight on the sac­ri­fice and ser­vice of mil­i­tary men and women. It’s a cause he’s pas­sion­ate about. This is the third year for the Games. In­spired by the U.S. War­rior Games, they started in Lon­don in 2014.

Last year, they moved to Or­lando. Harry was on his way to Or­lando when he launched the 2017 Toronto Games here.

And that’s when Harry met Meghan. Over the past year, I’ve talked to nu­mer­ous In­vic­tus ath­letes.

They are an ex­tra­or­di­nary bunch. They’re peo­ple who’ve put their lives on the line in some of the most dan­ger­ous places on Earth.

Take Dr. Steve Daniel. He served his coun­try in hotspots like Bos­nia, Croa­tia and Afghanistan with the Royal Canadian Reg­i­ment. Iron­i­cally, a rou­tine 2005 parachute jump in Tren­ton went hor­ri­bly wrong and changed his life for­ever.

He suf­fered a dev­as­tat­ing in­jury and will never walk again.

That hor­rific in­jury took its toll on his body and on his mar­riage.

It was through the heal­ing power of sport that he got his life back on track — and he cred­its Harry for that.

Re­tired mas­ter cor­po­ral Nat­acha Dupuis has seen death up close — and far too per­son­ally. On pa­trol in Afghanistan in 2009 with the ar­moured corps of the Royal Canadian Dra­goons, the ve­hi­cle be­hind the one in which Dupuis was rid­ing hit an IED.

Two of her col­leagues were killed and three oth­ers wounded.

Dupuis has suf­fered hor­rif­i­cally from Post Trau­matic Stress Dis­or­der (PTSD).

You can’t see her wounds, but they’re all too real.

Fight­ing her way out of the depths of dark­ness, she found help with such pro­grams as Sol­dier On, which helps re­tired and serv­ing mem­bers of the Canadian Armed Forces through par­tic­i­pa­tion in phys­i­cal, recre­ational or sport­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. Dupuis won two gold medals and a bronze at the Games in Or­lando last year.

It’s all about es­prit de corps, and com­pet­ing with peo­ple who’ve been through sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences, she told me in an in­ter­view last year.

One mem­ory epit­o­mizes the In­vic­tus ethos, she said. A triple am­putee was com­pet­ing in a swim­ming event.

“Ev­ery­one had fin­ished and he was still in the mid­dle of the pool — and go­ing. And the crowd was go­ing crazy. It was so emo­tional,” she told me.

That guy was giv­ing his all and the crowd erupted. No mat­ter their na­tion­al­ity, ev­ery­one watch­ing at the pool was cheer­ing him on.

In­vic­tus is the Latin word for “un­con­quered.” That’s just what these men and women are.

These Games are all about the un­quench­able strength of the hu­man spirit. These are the best of Canada. The best of the world.

The peo­ple who were will­ing to serve — and all they ask is that their ser­vice is re­mem­bered and hon­oured.

One thing you hear from all the com­peti­tors is their re­spect for Harry: He gets it. He hasn’t for­got­ten. He’s an hon­ourable man — one of their own — who won’t let them be for­got­ten.

And the ath­letes are win­ners. Ev­ery one of them.

VERON­ICA HENRI/TORONTO SUN FILES

Re­tired mas­ter cor­po­ral Nat­acha Dupuis, co-cap­tain of the 2017 In­vic­tus Games Team Canada.

MICHAEL PEAKE/TORONTO SUN FILES

MARKLE & PRINCE HARRY

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