The Invictus Games got underway in Toronto on Saturday with Prince Harry giving a speech at the opening ceremony. Harry, who served as a helicopter pilot in Afghanistan, spoke before the games how he felt compelled to raise awareness of the sacrifices made by servicemen and women after a harrowing flight back in 2008.
“As I was waiting on board the plane, the coffin of a Danish soldier was loaded on by his friends.”
“Once on the flight, I was confronted with three British soldiers, all in induced comas with missing limbs and wrapped in plastic.”
“The way I viewed service and sacrifice changed forever and the direction of my life changed with it.”
“I knew it was my responsibility to use the great platform that I have to help the world understand, and be inspired by, the spirit of those who wear the uniform.”
Athletes from 15 countries will compete in 12 sports over eight days. The inaugural Invictus Games took place in London in September 2014. They were held in Orlando, Florida, in 2016, and will be hosted by Sydney, Australia, in 2018.
A record number of competitors applied to join his British team for the tournament for wounded service personnel. Team GB’s vice-captain, Army Major Dr Jennifer Warren, who is a wheelchair user after a skiing accident in 2008 said: “For the Orlando Games, the main emotion was fear. This year is completely different. Orlando lit a spark in me that I’d forgotten was there.”
She added: “The nice thing isn’t just what it’s done for me, but also my teammates.”
“We’re people who might have been sat at home, not working, now we all have jobs, and are active. Things like that for me are more important than the medals. That’s the most priceless thing about the Games.”