The Invictus Games story
Prince Harry is committed to ensuring that wounded servicemen and women, who have given so much for their country, should be given the respect and support they deserve to lead fulfilling lives post recovery.
The inaugural Invictus Games in London 2014 used the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for wounded, injured and sick Servicemen and women
It began on a trip to the Warrior Games in the USA in 2013, when Prince Harry saw how the power of sport could help wounded servicemen and women in their recovery - physically, psychologically and socially.
His mind was made up. London would host the inaugural Invictus Games, an international sporting event for wounded, injured and sick Service personnel. He directed his charity, The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, to deliver the games in partnership with the Ministry of Defence.
The word ‘Invictus’ means ‘unconquered’. It embodies the fighting spirit of the wounded, injured and sick service personnel and what these tenacious men and women can achieve, post injury.
Launching the Games, Prince Harry said: "I have witnessed first-hand how the power of sport can positively impact the lives of wounded, injured and sick Servicemen and women in their journey of recovery."
The Invictus Games will focus on what they can achieve post injury and celebrate their fighting spirit, though an inclusive sporting competition that recognises the sacrifice they have made
"I am extremely proud that we are bringing an event like this to the UK for the first time and believe it can have a long lasting impact on the well-being of those who have served their nations so bravely.”
The Invictus Games 2014
The inaugural Invictus Games, held from 10-14 September 2014 in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, brought together for the first time over 400 competitors from 13 nations around the world.
This truly international events saw the British team joined by participants from Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Georgia, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand and USA.
Two years on from the spectacle of the London 2012 Games, tens of thousands of people returned to pack iconic venues in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. This time they were cheering on men and women who just six months prior had been unknown to the public, despite the personal sacrifice they had made on behalf of their country.
Across four days of intense sporting action, they compete in nine sports in five venues. The Games challenged attitudes and changed lives.
Prince Harry said: "These Games have shone a spotlight on the ‘unconquerable’ character of service men and women and their families and their ‘Invictus’ spirit."
These Games have been about seeing guys sprinting for the finish line and then turning round to clap the last man in
"They have been about teammates choosing to cross the line together, not wanting to come second, but not wanting the other guys to either. These Games have shown the very best of the human spirit."
The British team included 100 competitors, serving and veteran, from the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. Captain David Henson, who led for the British team, said:
“Competitive sport has made all the difference to my personal recovery and rehabilitation. For a whole international community of injured ‘brothers in arms’ who flat out refuse to let themselves be beaten by their injuries, the Invictus Games in London will offer a memorable, inspiring and energising experience in their journey of recovery."
Invictus Orlando 2016
Prince Harry was determined that the 2014 Games should not be a one-off, and The Invictus Games Foundation was established to develop this legacy, manage the process of selecting the hosts of future games and oversee their delivery.
In July 2015, Prince Harry as Patron of the Invictus Games Foundation, announced that the second Invictus Games have been awarded to Orlando, Florida. Making the announcement via video message, Prince Harry said that following the success of the inaugural Invictus Games in 2014 he always hoped that they would be just the beginning of the Invictus story.
Fifteen nations are invited to participate in the 2016 Games, which will be held from May 8 – 12, 2016 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.
I am absolutely delighted that the United States has taken up that challenge and will host the next Invictus Games in 2016. I have no doubt that the USA will set the bar even higher than London did and put on a great show
During that week, over 500 military athletes will compete 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 athletes and nations.
Launching Invictus Orlando, Prince Harry was joined by a very special guest ahead of the games.
A spectacular opening ceremony in Orlando launched the games in May 2016.
Invictus Toronto 2017
The third Invictus Games took place in Toronto, Canada from 23-30 September 2017. These Games brought together 540 competitors from 17 nations for 8 days of fierce competition.
As well as countries who participated in the 2014 and 2016 Invictus Games, Ukraine and Romania took part in their first ever Games. Competitors were joined by over 1,000 of their families and friends to recognise the vital role they play on a competitor’s recovery journey.
Invictus Sydney 2018
Sydney will host 500 competitors and 1000 family and friends from 20-27 October. The Games will feature competition in 11 sports with events being held across Greater Sydney, including Sydney Olympic Park and Sydney Harbour.
We had three key criteria. First, it had to be an iconic city – somewhere known the world over. Second, it needed to be a city with a proud military heritage, which would welcome competitors from all over the world with open arms. And finally, we wanted to go somewhere where they are absolutely sports mad and would really get behind our competitors. It was an easy decision really – the 2018 Invictus Games are coming to Sydney.
At the closing ceremony of Invictus Games Toronto 2017 Prince Harry challenged us all to do something to effect change in our lives or make a difference in our communities. In answer to Prince Harry’s call to action the Sydney 2018 team have launched ‘Make Your Mark Down Under’. Find out more here.
In April 2018, Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle attended the UK team trials, hosted at the University of Bath.
His Royal Highness and Ms. Markle saw more than 400 WIS military personnel and veterans compete for one of the 72 places available on the UK team. This year, 45 per cent of UK Team hopefuls have never applied for an Invictus Games before, highlighting the legacy of London, Orlando and Toronto.