Last night saw the opening ceremony of this year’s Invictus Games, declared by founder Prince Harry to be a ‘showcase of the very best of the human spirit’.
A star-studded line-up including First Lady Michelle Obama, actor Morgan Freeman, James Blunt and Laura Wright treated a crowd of thousands and competitors from over 14 countries to a ceremony full of entertainment, inspirational speeches and military pomp before the games officially began.
The Invictus Games: What Are They?
Inspired by Prince Harry’s two tours of duty in Afghanistan, the Invictus Games see nearly 500 athletes from fourteen different countries take part in a Paralympic-style multi-sport competition. This year’s event begins today (May 8th) and runs until Friday May 12th, with athletes hailing from countries including Estonia, Jordan, Afghanistan, Italy and Germany.
The athletes, made up of wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel and associated veterans, will compete against each other in a range of sports including sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball and rowing. Other events in the games include road cycling, swimming, athletics, rugby and tennis.
110 athletes from the UK are taking part in this year’s Invictus Games, led by former army captain David Wiseman. Captain Wiseman was shot while commanding a small British infantry team embedded within the Afghan National Army in 2009. He takes over the Invictus Games captaincy from Dave Henson, who led the UK team at the first games in 2014. This year, the US has the most athletes involved in the games with 115 armed services personnel and veterans taking part.
The word ‘invictus’ translates from Latin as ‘unconquered’ or ‘undefeated’. Organisers of the games have explained that the name was chosen as a manifestation of the power of sports to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and exemplify that there can be life beyond disability.
The name also reflects William Ernest Henley’s poem ‘Invictus’, written in 1875, which is often recited to inspire triumph in the face of adversity.
Where Can I Watch the Games?
BBC One will cover the Invictus Games this year, with Gabby Logan, Ade Adepitan, Daraine Mulvihill and Rachael Latham leading the presenting team. Highlights on the BBC will include the opening and closing ceremonies as well as plenty of the competitive events, the personal stories of the British Armed Forces team and a 60 minute documentary, ‘The Road to the Games’.
This year’s Invictus Games will conclude with an unforgettable closing ceremony, featuring the likes of international popstar Rachel Platten and hip-hop superstar Flo Rida. Prince Harry will also lead the handover of the Invictus Games flag to the Toronto 2017 organisers.
The Invictus Games 2017 will be hosted by Canada in Toronto from September 26–30th, and will include 600 competitors from sixteen nations, with 12 competitor events.