Prince Harry attended the launch of the UK’s Invictus team at The Tower of London; the 3rd Invictus Games will take place in Toronto from 23-30 September. Over 550 athletes from 17 countries will compete in 12 adaptive sports.
It was not the Prince who stole the show at today’s event, but a 6-year-old little girl named Maya Turner. Maya’s mother, 38-year-old RAF Sergeant Michelle Turner was selected for the UK team. Maya read aloud the thank you note she penned to Prince Harry.
Sgt Turner suffers from a heart condition that causes exhaustion, dizziness, and for her to collapse. She was selected for the swimming and rowing teams for the games. In her hand-written note, Maya said how choosing her mummy for the UK team helped her.
Maya said, as quoted by the Telegraph: “I was very proud of mummy and every other brave boy and girl.
“Thank you Help For Heroes and Prince Harry for helping my mummy and her friends.”
She made everyone present laugh when she said: “PS I hope I have my two front teeth for Toronto”.
Two years ago, little Maya called emergency services when her mother collapsed at their home. She received a reward for her bravery.
Michelle told the Telegraph, before attending the training camps she was a “broken girl” who was too afraid to go out for fear of an embarrassing collapse in public.
Because of the Invictus coaches, she is “on a journey that is making me do things I never thought I’d do again”, proclaiming herself “so damn proud and happy”.
Prince Harry told the assembled men and women: “No matter how you are going to do I promise you that you will feel a million dollars. Whether you cross the finishing line first or last will make no difference to me or to anyone.
“It’s in our blood to win, it’s in our nature to win. [but] Whether you are blowing smoke out of your arse as your cross the line makes no difference.
“It is what you are achieving, what you have achieved to get there.”
Former Army Major Bernie Broad will serve as the captain of the UK team. Broad lost his legs below the knee in an accident in 2000.
He told the Telegraph: “As a fully-blooded late entry officer in the Grenadier Guards I ate up the chance to take part and become captain.
“When you become injured it’s amazing what you lose – confidence, dignity, stature… I didn’t want anyone to see me like this.
“Since being medically retired from the Armed Forces in 2014, I feel that I have taken my foot off the gas and become quite complacent.
“But I didn’t want to sit around feeling sorry for myself.
“I have always been a keen and competitive sportsman, so I kick started my fitness regime and now regularly swim, cycle and walk.
“Invictus was a big, bright light that I feel I needed to get into. Now I’ve got no excuse not to do nothing.
“I’m looking forward to taking part in the Invictus Games as I see this involvement as a way to re-focus me physically and mentally and to re-engage in a full, active, competitive and fulfilling life.”
One athlete told Prince Harry that the Invictus Games gave them the chance to be part of a military family once more. Harry responded by saying: “This is my fix, too, you know.
“I’ve left the forces as well now and I miss everything about it. Well, not quite everything about it, but it’s an opportunity to be with like-minded people, to share that dark sense of humour that we all love, and just be amongst each other.
“And for you is an opportunity to be part of a team and represent your country.”
This year’s 90-strong UK team is comprised of 62% new athletes. More than 300 athletes tried out for the team by participating in 11 adaptive sports.