On Wednesday, Prince Harry lent his support to British Armed Forces team who are set to represent their nation at the inaugural Invictus Games next month.
The 130 servicemen and veterans chosen are to be a part of the British team form the largest ever military sports team to be made up of wounded and injured soldiers. The team is made up of 69 percent Army representatives, 23 percent Naval Service representatives, and 8 percent Air Force representatives. Of these, 58 percent are veterans, while the remaining 42 percent are still serving in the Armed Forces.
The team was selected after 67 days of training and nearly 500 hours of coaching. The men and women were supported by the Ministry of Defence and Help for Heroes, as a part of their Sports Recovery programme. The members of the final team were selected on the basis of their commitment to training, performance, progression in the sport and feedback from the coaches. The participants come from all over the UK, and will now ramp up their training with a focus on the events at the Invictus Games.
Prince Harry, who has played an active role in organising and promoting the Games, addressed the British team in front of London Bridge today. “Prosthetics, dogs, wheelchairs, high-performance cars, 4x4s, tattoos – we’ve got everything here,” he began. “It could only be the Invictus Games.”
He went on to thank the families of the competitors, saying that: “No one recovering from a life-changing injury could do it alone and everyone behind me will testify to that. The support of friends and family is vital and the games will recognise this enormous contribution.”
The young royal also wished the servicemen and women the best of luck for the upcoming events. “Guys and girls, I wish you all the very best of luck in the final weeks of training,” he said. “We’ve got four weeks left, let’s make sure we’re in tiptop condition to beat everybody else and bring back as many medals as we possibly can – not forgetting it’s the taking part that counts.”
The captain of the British Armed Forces team is Captain Dave Henson, who lost his legs in 2011, in a blast in Afghanistan. He said: “When I was injured I thought that was it, my life was over. The confidence boost that sport gave me was huge and to be selected as part of the British team for the Invictus Games is a huge honour. I really hope the British public both really get behind the Games and come and support us in person. It’s going to be a truly inspirational event.”
“Those who will be competing in the Invictus Games have already overcome enormous challenges and shown huge courage in the face of the life-changing injuries they received whilst bravely serving their country,” said the Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon. “The UK team represents the Best of British spirit and I urge people to join me in cheering them on in a few weeks’ time.”
The Invictus Games are a sporting event for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women from 14 nations across the world. They will be held from the 10th to the 14th of September at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the Lee Valley Athletics Centre in London. The Games are being organised with the support of the Ministry of Defence and The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
Photo Credit: Invictus Games 2014