There was a tremendous atmosphere of camaraderie at the opening of the Invictus Games in Lee Valley Park yesterday – the 11th September 2014. It was thrilling to see people compete against each other, and particularly, against their personal limitations. Men and women who had suffered injury or illness attempted to overcome any disabilities or problems to take part, and win the field and track events. It was both inspiring and humbling to be part of an audience who were eager to see people achieving and winning. And also wonderful to experience the generosity of spirit which showed appreciation of every single competitor, despite their nationality or any other factor, especially those whose strength or speed didn’t match the other competitors. The cheering and applause increased when the crowd realised someone was struggling or tiring, and they clapped and cheered in an attempt to carry them to the finishing line. And if they came last? So what! At least they’d stayed the course and delighted the crowd. EVERY competitor was more than a winner.
The name ‘Invictus’ is Latin for ‘unconquered’, a brilliant description of the Games, which will use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect of those who serve their country in military service. It was also a very appropriate day to launch the Games, as 11th September, better known as 9-11, is the day we remember those killed or injured by terrorist activity in USA in 2001. This year also, we remember those who died in the World War One which began one hundred years ago.
In a tribute to those who served in the First World War, those who have served their country since, and those still affected by 9-11, the Games opened with a drumhead service. This is a church service conducted ‘in the field’, traditionally with the drums draped with appropriate colours to create a makeshift altar.
It was a shame the Duchess of Cambridge was unable to attend but there were several members of the Royal Family on hand to present medals at the many award ceremonies, including Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry – the prince who was inspired by the U.S. Warrior Games to launch the Invictus Games here in London.
Surely everyone who attended the Games is inspired to strive harder and to aim higher after seeing such strength in the face of adversity – I know I AM.
As before, no advert for my ebook. Nothing should distract from the achievement of the athletes and organisers of the Invictus Games.