Last night marked the Opening Ceremony and beginning of the 2016 Invictus Games, held May 8-12 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. From now until Thursday, over 500 military competitors from fifteen nations will take part in 10 sporting events as they are cheered on by thousands of family members, friends and spectators. They will compete not only in the spirit of cordial competition, but also in camaraderie among the competitors and nations.
The Paralympic-style sports competition are the creation of Prince Harry, who got the inspiration to help wounded and sick military personnel and their families after his two tours of duty in Afghanistan. The initial Invictus Games were held in London in 2014, but Prince Harry thought it important to have an American-held games this year.
According to the 2016 Invictus Games website, the word “Invictus” means “unconquered.” It embodies the fighting spirit of the wounded, ill, and injured Service members and what these tenacious men and women can achieve, post-injury. The Games harness the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for those whom serve their countries.
Invictus competitors are the men and women who have come face-to-face with the reality of making a sacrifice for their countries. They are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, husbands and wives, who put their lives on the line and suffered life-changing injuries. These people are the embodiment of everything for which the Invictus Games stand. They have been tested and challenged, but they have not been overcome. They have proven they cannot be defeated. They have the willpower to persevere and conquer new heights. The 2014 Games shone a spotlight on the sacrifices these men and women made serving their country, and their indefatigable drive to overcome. The Invictus Games London 2014 was about much more than just four days of sport; it captured hearts, challenged minds and changed lives.
In December of 2015, SportProsUSA was honored to be part of the announcement ceremony and demonstration for the upcoming Invictus Games. Former President and honorary Invictus Games chairman, George W. Bush, was among the hundreds of people to board the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York to view a sitting volleyball demonstration on a Sport Court by SportProsUSA. Sitting volleyball is one of 10 adaptive sports featured during the Invictus Games including archery, cycling, indoor rowing, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field, powerlifting, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, and wheelchair tennis.
The Invictus Games Orlando 2016 will shine a light on the holistic recovery and rehabilitation that occurs through sport for the wounded, ill, and injured Service men and women who participate in them. Though only 500, these men and women represent the tens of thousands of Service members around the globe who face the daily challenges from their wounds, illnesses, and injuries, both visible and invisible.
For more information on the 2016 Invictus Games, including ESPN’s broadcast schedule, please visit invictusgames2016.org.
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