Yesterday, Prince Harry launched the 500-day countdown to the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney. Australia’s largest city is set to host the sporting competition for injured and ill service people in October next year, following on from Toronto in September.
Harry spoke at Sydney’s Admiralty House about the aim of the games. He said: “Sport would help these guys and girls fix their lives and reconnect with those around them, the spectacle of sport combined with stories of recovery against the odds would inspire all those who saw it.”
The Prince also paid tribute to the brave people who risked their lives to save others in the recent attacks in Britain, the fatalities of which included two Australians. Harry said that “the Invictus Games show us that it is possible to overcome adversity.”
Former serviceman Davin Bretherton, an amputee who will compete in the 2017 competition in Canada, spoke about how sport has helped him to recover: “It gets you back in to the spirit of comradeship and it’s about supporting fellow soldiers who are like minded.”
Harry’s fans flocked from across southern Australia and further afield to watch the Prince speak… despite the typically British rain that he must have taken with him.
92 year-old Daphne, who waited to see Harry during his tour in 2014, again lingered to catch a glimpse of the Royal; he did not disappoint, and recognised the elderly woman, spending time chatting to her.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also spoke at the countdown launch. He said “The Games are called Invictus … [meaning] unconquered. You are unconquered. You are unconquerable, just as are the values for which you fought, for which you fight, for which our nations stand.”
The first Invictus Games were held in London 3 years ago, and were the brainchild of the Prince, who saw the positive power of sport for injured service people. Military amputees, those suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress disorders, and other ex-servicemen suffering from long-term illnesses are eligible to compete in the games. 14 countries compete in the games, including nations that have fought alongside the UK. Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Netherlands, New Zealand, UK, and USA will be taking part.
Harry also got the chance to see the Australian team preparing for the games, including swimmers, and sailers.