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Invictus Games: Games fronted by Prince Harry to take place in Orlando, Florida in May

Published in Sports Management 08 Feb 2016 issue 113
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Prince Harry with Cain Berry, performance support manager for the Tennis Foundation
Prince Harry with Cain Berry, performance support manager for the Tennis Foundation

Prince Harry made a surprise visit to the University of Bath last week, to attend the UK Team Trials for the 2016 Invictus Games and to show his support for the athletes.

With under 100 days to go until the games at the ESPN Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World, Orlando, the 31-year-old royal gave a rousing address to the assembled athletes.

“You’re now ambassadors for the Invictus spirit, and the Invictus shirt,” he said. “Wherever you go and whatever you do, take every opportunity to spread the word. The most important thing is to enjoy it, make the most of it and appreciate how much support there is out there for disability sport.”

Due to be held from 8 - 12 May, the second Games follow the successful debut event which was staged at London’s Queen Elizabeth II Olympic Park in September 2014.

Encouragement
The trials, organised by Help for Heroes, with support from the Ministry of Defence and the Royal British Legion, were hosted at the university over three days. They saw wounded, injured and sick (WIS) military personnel and veterans compete across 10 sports for one of 100 places on the UK team.

Timing his visit for the first day of the trials, Harry – who co-founded the event in 2014 with Sir Keith Mills – met and supported Invictus Games hopefuls as they tried out for athletics, cycling and track and field events as well as wheelchair tennis.

“The excitement is building, not just here, but also across the pond,” said Harry. “You’ll be amazed by the amount of support there is out there for you.”

Power of sport
Named after Invictus, the Latin for “unconquered, undefeated” the event was inspired by the Warrior Games, a similar event held in the United States. The first Games were funded in part by the UK Treasury, with money generated by fines imposed on banks as a result of the Libor scandal.

The Invictus Games uses the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding of and respect for wounded, injured and sick servicepeople. Following the success of the first event, the Invictus Games Foundation was set up to develop a legacy, select the hosts of future games and oversee their delivery.

Describing the event, Harry said: “These Games shine a spotlight on the ‘unconquerable’ spirit of servicemen and women and their families. We want to build on the success of 2014 and broaden the concept.”

The inaugural Invictus Games attracted 413 competitors from 13 nations: Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, The Netherlands, New Zealand, The UK and the US. Athletes competed for gold in nine sports over five days. This list will increase to ten this year, including athletics, archery, indoor rowing, powerlifting, road cycling, sitting volleyball, swimming, basketball, rugby, tennis, and triathlon.

More than 79,000 spectators attended the sporting events and opening and closing ceremonies, which were widely covered by the media, with more than 10m viewers watching the Games on the BBC.

As co-founder, Harry spent the entire week at the Games and was actively involved in the organisation. His presence ensuring wide media coverage.

“The Invictus Games is about inspiring people to overcome their challenges and raising awareness of the issues,” he said. “I believe we’ve achieved this, as public support for the Games is phenomenal and the impact it has on competitors is unforgettable.”

The British team for the Invictus Games 2016 will be announced later this month.

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