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A 'thrilling' day as Charles and the boys cheer on wounded warriors

By Tony Jones

Britain's wounded warriors won a clutch of gold medals on the opening day of the Invictus Games as Prince Harry said he was "thrilled" by the sporting spectacle.

The highlight was wheelchair racer Joseph Townsend, a former Royal Marine, who claimed four victories on the track in the 100 metres, 200m, 400m and 1,500m.

He was in a class of his own and was dubbed by Harry as "our David Weir, a medal machine", comparing the ex-serviceman to the athlete who won three gold medals at the Paralympics.

By the end of the first day of the four-day Games, Britain had won 15 gold medals, seven silver and six bronze but were trailing Team US who had won more than 70 medals.

Former Army Captain David Henson, the British Armed Forces team captain, who was cheered by the ecstatic spectators as he won a 200m gold, summed up the mood. "It's been an emotional day," he said.

The gold rush began when Alex Tate crossed the finishing line first in his 100m race and later described the Games as the "best rehabilitation any soldier could have".

Prince Harry, who is the driving force behind the Games, said he was "thrilled" when asked for his assessment of the first day.

He was joined by the Duke of Cambridge and the casually dressed royal brothers mingled freely with the competitors, spectators and press at the Lee Valley Athletics Centre.

Kate, who is expecting her second child, was also supposed to attend but is suffering from acute morning sickness.

But the Prince of Wales was present and, as planned, arrived later in the afternoon.

Double gold Andy Grant (26) who triumphed in the 400m and 1,500m races for competitors who have lost limbs below the knee, said: "I knew straight away how important sport was just through my rehab. I don't think there is anything more inspiring than seeing a guy who two years ago was lying in a ditch in Afghanistan bleeding to death, and now he is running 100m in Paralympic time."

Teams have travelled from the USA, Denmark, Estonia, France and Italy, Canada, Holland, Australia, Afghanistan, Georgia, New Zealand and Germany to compete in the Games.

Belfast Telegraph


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