As another highly successful Invictus Games draws to a close, in this blog we thought we would reflect on what an incredible event it is and the spirit and legacy it leaves behind.
The Invictus Games are a unique international sporting competition for wounded, sick and injured men and women who have served in the armed forces. Competitors include both veterans and those who are still serving, and perhaps more than any other sporting event, The Invictus Games is focused on the fighting spirit of its competitors.
Invictus = the Unconquered
Even the name of the Games is a reference to this fighting spirit as the word “Invictus” is Latin for “unconquered”. It therefore embodies the refusal to give up felt by each and every one of the competing service personnel. Although they are struggling with injuries, wounds and illness, these tenacious and determined men and women refuse to lie down and give up. Rather they come to these Games to show the world what can be achieved, even in the face of terrible adversity.
Harnessing the intrinsic power of sport to inspire and support recovery and rehabilitation, The Invictus Games also help to create a wider understanding, awareness and a respect for people who choose to serve their country.
A brief history of the Games
The Invictus Games were inspired by a similar event — the Warrior Games — held in the United States since 2010. In 2013, Prince Harry attended the Warrior Games in Colorado, and having watched a British team competing, he had the idea of creating a similar event that would take place in the United Kingdom. And so the first Invictus Games took place the following year in London at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The second competition took place two years later in Florida and the 2017 competition has just drawn to a close in Toronto, Canada.
The Games has grown bigger with each incarnation and in Toronto this year around 600 individuals from 17 different countries took part, two more countries than at the last Games. The 12 different sports for which participants competed were archery, athletics, cycling, driving, golf, powerlifting, rowing, swimming and seated versions of volleyball, basketball, rugby and tennis.
The Invictus Spirit
Speaking as Patron of the Games, Prince Harry has highlighted the fighting spirit that is at the heart of these Games and every one of its competitors. The Games exist to shine a spotlight on the invincible nature of these service men and women, as well as their families. This is the Invictus spirit.
Ultimately, they are different from other competitions as they are really not merely about winning. As Prince Harry puts it, “These Games have been about seeing guys sprinting for the finish line and then turning round to clap the last man in.” It’s also not unusual for teammates to choose to cross the line together.
Ultimately, the Invictus Games and the spirit that runs through it is wholly unique. It’s the same spirit that evolves within the services, an esprit de corps born of the desire to work together to save lives. It’s legacy is undoubtedly in the inspiration that it provides in the face of adversity.
The 2018 Invictus Games will be held in Sydney, Australia.