Why The Invictus Games Matter

The 2016 Invictus Games are going to take place between 8-12 May. The Games will feature 500 competitors from 15 countries, competing across 10 different accessible sports including athletics, sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball and rugby.

What Are The Invictus Games?

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The Invictus Games were an initiative started by Prince Harry. On a trip to the US in 2013 to watch the ‘Warrior Games’, Harry was struck by the power of sport to help rehabilitate service men and women who had suffered life altering physical and mental trauma.

Harry being the all round good guy that he is, decided that he needed to do his bit to help these outstanding men and women who had given so much to their countries.  So in 2014, the ‘People’s Prince’ organised the inaugural Invictus Games for injured and sick service people to come together and compete against each other.

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.

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Why Invictus?

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Invictus means unconquered and is forever associated with the poem by William Ernest Henley. It has been popularised by many people but perhaps most notably Nelson Mandela.

Why I Think The Invictus Games Matter

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In September 1943, a Jewish neurosurgeon called Dr Ludwig Guttmann was charged with establishing a spinal injuries treatment centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. As director of the new centre, Guttmann introduced sport as rehabilitation method for many of the injured servicemen who were sent there.

Later, he help organise the first Stoke Mandeville Games. By 1952, over 130 competitors came to compete in the Stoke Mandeville games. By 1960, the games were held in conjunction with the Rome summer Olympics.

Guttmann was famously quoted as saying, “‘”If ever I did one good thing in my medical career it was to introduce sport into the treatment and rehabilitation programme of spinal cord sufferers and other severely disabled.”‘

The Paralympic Games have since gone from strength to strength. The London games in 2012, perhaps marked a significant shift from the perception of the event as ‘participation’ and more toward an elite sports event. Certainly the bar continues to be raised in terms of standards and barriers to participation.

Which is why I believe the Invictus Games to be so important. They are the gap in provision between participation and the Paralympics. Please support them by watching and taking part on social media.

Find out more here: https://invictusgamesfoundation.org/foundation/story

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