INVICTUS GAMES: 8 CAN AND WILL HIGHLIGHTS 13 NATIONS, 413 COMPETITORS, FOUR DAYS OF UNRIVALLED PASSION, COURAGE AND DETERMINATION.
The inaugural Invictus Games were a remarkable success. The international sporting event, championed by Prince Harry, featured wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women in competition across nine sporting disciplines. These amazing athletes displayed enormous bravery and grit to overcome psychological and physical injury to compete for their countries.
From formidable displays of athletic prowess to moments of sheer human compassion, the games were a constant source of inspiration. We’ve rounded up 8 highlights from the Invictus Games where Can And Will spirit conquered all.
1. PRINCE HARRY’S OPENING CEREMONY ADDRESS
“You prove that anything is possible, if you have the will.” Addressing the competitors on Queen Elizabeth Park’s South Lawns, Prince Harry summed up the spirit of the Invictus Games. He went on: “No longer are these inspirational men and women defined by their injuries. Over the next four days we will see some truly remarkable achievements. Lives will be changed this weekend.” He wasn’t wrong.
2. BRITAIN VS. USA, WHEELCHAIR RUGBY FINAL
Friday’s wheelchair rugby – the sport dubbed “murderball” – reached a thrilling conclusion with the final between the tournament’s two dominant teams: Britain and USA. An end-to-end match was 12-12 with less than a minute left and looked to be heading into overtime. But Britain’s Charlie Walker had other ideas. He drew on every ounce of self belief to weave and dart through the stoic American defence, scoring the winning point and securing gold for the home team. Amid jubilant scenes from the crowd, there were congratulations and hugs between both teams at the finish. Every man and woman out there had done their nation proud.
3. WE CAN AND WILL FINISH TOGETHER
Does team spirit get any stronger than this? A poignant moment on Saturday saw Britain’s Paul Vice, JJ Chalmers and Robert Cromly-Hawke finish the Men’s IRecB1 Recumbent Circuit Race hand in hand, winning joint gold for all three men.
4. EVERY COMPETITOR COUNTS
Winning Invictus gold was a dream come true for many competitors, but just getting to the start line was an incredible achievement for every single athlete at the games. Whether it was Britain’s Micky Yule bellowing with delight after winning powerlifting gold, or Afghan double amputee Haji Ahmad Shar straining every sinew during the indoor rowing: every performance was an inspiration. Duly, the Closing Ceremony featured special medallion presentations for all competitors.
5. MIKE GOODY PROVES HE CAN AND WILL
Post-traumatic stress disorder, a brain injury, loss of hearing, and having a left leg amputated: this is what former Aircraftsman Mike Goody faced after an IED blast in Afghanistan in 2008. But he refused to be defeated. Mike’s astonishing four golds in the swimming at the Invictus Games were the culmination of his remarkable journey of rehabilitation.
Another Brit, Kimberley Sterling, matched Mike’s accomplishment with four golds of her own in the pool. These two brave competitors are exemplars for the power of sport for rehabilitation and recovery.
6. JAGUAR AWARD FOR EXCEPTIONAL PERFORMANCE
An almost super-human show of skill and endurance propelled Britain’s Joe Townsend to four athletics golds on the opening day of the Invictus Games. The veteran Royal Marine and double leg amputee’s outstanding Can And Will effort was honoured with the Jaguar Award for Exceptional Performance at the Closing Ceremony.
7. LAND ROVER UNCONQUERABLE SOUL AWARD FOR MAURICE MANUEL
“I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul” is the second line from William Ernest Henley’s 1875 poem Invictus, a stirring paean to defiance and overcoming the odds. Land Rover’s Unconquerable Soul award celebrated one competitor who went above and beyond in their drive to succeed at the games. The award was given to Denmark’s Maurice Manuel, who captained the Danes to bronze in wheelchair basketball and won a further three medals – all while caring for an unwell family member. If one man embodied the unshakeable commitment of the Invictus Games, it was Maurice.
8. PUBLIC SUPPORT
The support for the Invictus Games from the general public was overwhelming. From the Copper Box Arena to the Aquatic Centre and beyond, rapturous crowds cheered every gutsy, defiant, passionate performance from the athletes. How fitting that the ex-servicemen and women’s resilience and sacrifices should be honoured in this way. As Prince Harry put it in his closing address: “These games have shown the very best of human spirit."
CAN AND WILL SPIRIT LIVES ON…
The Invictus Games delivered four thrilling, rousing days of competition and served as a powerful reminder of how sport can make a difference. But the work doesn’t stop there. Dr Ralf Speth, Chief Executive Officer of Jaguar Land Rover, has pledged to focus on a lasting legacy from the games. JLR will work with the Royal Foundation and Ministry of Defence to explore ways of enhancing the prospects of wounded, injured and sick ex-service personnel. Together, we Can And Will overcome adversity to offer hope and change lives.