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Prince Harry given guided tour of Invictus Games venues

Published 06/05/2016

Prince Harry (front centre) met athletes taking part in the 2016 Invictus Games at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida
Prince Harry (front centre) met athletes taking part in the 2016 Invictus Games at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida
Prince Harry meets David Romero and his dog Jasmine as he meets members of the public and athletes taking part in the 2016 Invictus Games
Prince Harry meets David Romero's dog Jasmine at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida
Prince Harry chats to athletes taking part in the 2016 Invictus Games
The 2016 Invictus Games get under way on Sunday
Prince Harry watches swimmers in action at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando

Prince Harry has got his first glimpse of the venues that will host the 2016 Invictus Games.

In brilliant summer sunshine, Harry was given a guided tour of the arenas and centres where more than 500 competitors from 15 nations will compete in the Paralympics-style sporting spectacle.

As he wandered around the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida, Harry chatted to some of the injured servicemen and women and veterans completing their training ahead of the Games which start on Sunday with an opening ceremony attended by US First Lady Michelle Obama.

He travelled by golf buggy between the venues and competitors did double takes when they saw him driven past or called out his name and got a wave in return.

Harry marvelled at the temporary swimming pool built in a few weeks on the site and stopped to speak to members of the Dutch team who were training there.

He posed for a picture with the men and joked that he was wearing too many clothes as the image was taken.

Dutch team captain Rahmon Zondervan an officer in the Netherlands military said: "We talked about the first Invictus Games held in 2014 and he was asking what events we were competing in.

"Orlando is bigger than London but we're all together here as the venues are closer together and the atmosphere is great."

As he toured the Invictus pool, Harry came nose to nose with a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) dog - who alerts her owner when he is about to have a stress-induced attack.

He chatted with Air Force veteran David Romero, 46, and stroked his two-year-old golden retriever Jasmine, who put her paw on the Prince's arm.

The 46-year-old, who is a software engineer at Disney and is volunteering at the games, served in the Air Force for six years as a meteorologist until he suffered leg injuries in a motorbike accident more than 20 years ago that left him with PTSD.

Mr Romero chatted to Harry about Jasmine: "I told him what she does and he joked 'I need one of these'."

He added: "The Prince has helped change the view of veterans like me who've got invisible injuries. These guys have given me such inspiration and I'd like to try out for next year's games. To have the Prince backing us, it gives the world visibility to it."

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From Belfast Telegraph