Invictus is latin for ‘unconquered,’ and it is very fitting for this sophmore event. Started in 2014 the Invictus Games is a unique competition for service men and women started by Prince Harry. Competitors will be wounded, injured and sick armed personnel. Prince Harry was inspired by the ‘Warrior Games’ a solely US event the Prince wanted to make more inclusive for other countries, and has built on the success of 2014 Invictus Games in London with this year’s offering in Florida.
We are in the middle at the moment of 4 days of competing between 500 athletes representing 14 different nations. As well as the main Athletics event there is a plethora of other sports with which servicemen have used to help them recover. These include Archery, Indoor Rowing, and wheelchair events like Tennis and Basketball to name but a few.
Prince Harry and William have made a vow to carry on the charitable work of their mother and armed personnel are of course close to Harry’s heart. The Prince has been part of two tours with the British Army, the Blues and Royals and as a pilot of an Apache Helicopter in the Army Air Corps. “The Invictus Games harnesses the power of sport to support rehabilitation, inspire recovery, and ultimately to enable those taking part to move beyond their illness or injury.” He said in the opening ceremony Programme. Another part of it for Harry has been mental health, he spoke about it in his opening speech. “Every single one of them will have confronted tremendous emotional and mental challenges. When we give a standing ovation to the competitor with the missing limbs, let’s also cheer our hearts out for the man who overcame anxiety so severe he couldn’t leave his house. Let’s cheer for the woman who fought through post-traumatic stress and let’s celebrate the soldier who was brave enough to get help for his depression.”
Helping him in the endeavour has been the Obama’s, particularly Michelle, who was at the opening ceremony on Sunday. She has herself dedicated her time as first lady towards helping veteran’s families. The promotion of Invictus Games even featured a video of the Obamas challenging the Queen no less, who says “oh please” in response!
The opening ceremony was one fit for a Paralympics. Taking place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports at Disney it included a performance from James Blunt who served in Kosovo. The US Marine Corps Silent Drill Team were also present to entertain the crowd and the 500 athletes.
The Invictus Games looks here to stay with 2017 already in the pipeline in Canada. The 14 nations will hope to be increased and Prince Harry will put that at the top of his to do list. The focus on mental health is seen as a passion for the Prince and his aim is to prevent not only armed servicemen but civilians with depression to realise it is not a life sentence. He recently gave this message at the London Marathon. The brave men and women are inspiring and though they were dealt a tough hand are building a future for themselves. The Invictus Games is a delightful celebration of what can be achieved after physical and mental trauma. It will whet the appetite for more of the same inspiring stories at Rio 2016 Paralympics.