MAY 10, 2016, ORLANDO, Fla. (NNS) – Under the sunny, clear blue skies of Orlando, Florida, more than 500 wounded, ill and injured athletes from 15 nations gathered for the opening ceremonies of the 2016 Invictus Games, May 8.
The Invictus Games are an international Paralympic-style, multi-sport event created by Prince Harry in 2014 after he saw the Warrior Games in the U.S. He wanted to demonstrate the power of sports to inspire recovery, support servicemembers’ rehabilitation, and to demonstrate that there is life beyond their disability.
This year, 113 athletes across the services are representing the United States.
As the National Anthem filled the stadium, spectators rose to their feet, and veterans, both young and old, could be seen throughout the crowd standing at attention and saluting.
Ken Fisher, chairman of Invictus Games Orlando 2016, welcomed the athletes and spectators.
“I am thrilled you are all here,” said Fisher. “These games will celebrate the military family as never before. We will celebrate their role in recovery, and witness the role sports has played in that long and difficult rehabilitation process.”
There are 10 sports athletes will be competing in: archery, indoor rowing, powerlifting, road cycling, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, and wheelchair tennis. They will be cheered on by thousands of spectators and family members.
“Over the next four days, you will hear stories of courage and fortitude told by men and women who refused to use the term ‘I can’t’,” Fisher said. “You 500 seated in front of me are truly unconquerable, as are the 1,000 family and friends seated next to you.”
After the Marine Corps Silent Drill Team wowed the crowd with their performance, Prince Harry took the stage.
“I cannot tell you how proud and excited I am to open the second Invictus Games here in America,” Harry said. “You are role models that any parent would be proud to have their children follow. So let’s put on a hell of a show in memory of all of our fallen comrades who didn’t make it back. We are Invictus!”
The games will run the entire week and climax with the closing ceremonies on May 12.