Following a trip to the 2013 Warrior Games in the US, Prince Harry was privileged to see first-hand the ways in which the power of sport could physically, socially and psychologically help former Servicemen and women. Thus the idea for the Invictus Games – an international sporting event specifically for injured, wounded and sick Service personnel – was born.
From the official Invictus Games Foundation website:
‘The word ‘Invictus’ means ‘unconquered’. It embodies the fighting spirit of the wounded, injured and sick service personnel and what these tenacious men and women can achieve, post injury. The Games harness the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation, and generate a wider understanding and respect for those who serve their country.’
Those who compete in the Games are the men and women who have faced the reality of sacrificing for their country by putting their lives on the line. They have been ‘tested and challenged, but they have not been overcome’.
The Inaugural Invictus Games
First held in 2014, the Invictus Games mission was to use ‘the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for wounded, injured and sick Servicemen and women’.
Over the course of four days, 400 competitors from 13 nations competed in nine sports at five different venues in front of tens of thousands of spectators.
At the close of the Inaugural games, Prince Harry said, ‘These Games have shone a spotlight on the ‘unconquerable’ character of service men and women and their families and their ‘Invictus’ spirit. These Games have been about seeing guys sprinting for the finish line and then turning round to clap the last man in. They have been about teammates choosing to cross the line together, not wanting to come second, but not wanting the other guys to either. These Games have shown the very best of the human spirit.’
The Establishment of The Invictus Games Foundation
With such success and support the Invictus story had only just begun and the Invictus Games Foundation was established to develop the legacy of the event. The Foundation’s primary function is to broaden the concept behind the Invictus Games by facilitating and managing the process of selecting future hosts for the games and overseeing their delivery.
Prince Harry acts as Patron for the Foundation and the board of trustees is chaired by Sir Keith Mills GBE (the former deputy chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games) who is also the Chairman of The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
The Future of the Games
Bids from cities around the world to host future games started to pour in almost immediately and Orlando, Florida was chosen as the location for the second games, which took place in 2016 and was attended by Michelle Obama. Toronto will see the third Invictus Games from 24-30 September 2017.