One of the biggest fans — and also one of the youngest — at the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 is nine-year-old Rio Woolf from London, England. Affectionately known as “Blade Boy Rio” on Twitter, Rio has his eyes set on competing for the United Kingdom in the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris.
Rio is attending his third Invictus Games, having been in London in 2014 and Orlando in 2016. In 2016, he also attended the Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games as a guest of the Brazilian Paralympic Committee.
Rio is in Toronto with his parents, Juliette and Trevor, and is having a great time watching competitions and meeting the competitors from Team UK and other participating nations. He’s also had the opportunity to meet Prince Harry in Toronto — the third time he’s met the Prince.
Rio Woolf with Team UK competitor and medallist Mark Ormrod.
For Rio, who was born with a rare bone deficiency that required the amputation of his lower right leg when he was just 14 months old, the Invictus Games competitors inspire him and help him realize that anything is possible.
Juliette says attending events like the Invictus Games is important to the family: “It is hard for Rio to be the only amputee in his school back in London. So to come to Toronto and see all the amputees and their prosthetics normalizes it for him. And to see runners on the track with blades like his helps encourage his dream to compete.”
Rio was the first child in the United Kingdom to be fitted with the Ottobock 3R67 paediatric knee joint as well as a child’s running blade made by the same company. He also serves as an ambassador for Dorset Orthopaedic.
Rio recently met one of his heroes, British Paralympian Jonnie Peacock, who encouraged him to start training for the Paralympic Games. He`ll do so with his heroes, the wounded warriors of the Invictus Games, as his inspiration.
Photo credit – Juliette Woolf