The Invictus Games closed four days of inspirational athletic performances in spectacular fashion Thursday night in Orlando.
The Paralympic-style event for wounded and sick military members and veterans wrapped up with a star-studded concert including performances from Grammy-nominated hip-hop artist Flo Rida, country music group Rascal Flatts, pop star Rachel Platten, “American Idol” winner Phillip Phillips and “The Voice” Season 9 winner Jordan Smith.
But the closing ceremonies belonged to the 454 participants from 14 nations who came to Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports to compete in the name of their countries.
“The competition has been fierce with performances of the highest international standard across a number of events,” said Prince Harry, who created the Invictus Games to aid wounded service members and veterans from around the world. “But what inspired me was the courage to make it to the starting line, to take to the field or to dive into that pool motivated by the goal of giving it your all medal or no medal.”
During the Games, thousands who came in person and millions watching around world saw competition in 10 sports including wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, wheelchair rugby, indoor rowing, and track and field.
“What an amazing night,” said Dr. Jill Biden, who was part of the presidential delegation at the Invictus Games. “It’s been an honor to be here with you the past couple of days. Congratulations to our competitors, all of their families and friends who have supported them on the road to Invictus.
“For the past four days, the world has watched as some of the finest athletes and warriors in the world carried their countries flags in competition against others who truly understand the meaning of duty, loyalty and sacrifice,” she said. “It has been a truly humbling experience for me to be a part of the Invictus Games.”
The Invictus Games were created by Prince Harry as a way to inspire and motivate wounded soldiers on their path to recovery. The first Invictus Games were held in London last year and the 2017 Games will be held in Toronto, which had a delegation on hand to accept the I Am flag.
“Thank you to Prince Harry and Ken Fisher (chairman and CEO of the Invictus Games) for bringing the Invictus Games to the United States,” Biden said. “I am so proud of all of the competitors. The spirit of the wounded warriors, the competitive drive and dedication defines what it means to be resilient.”
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.