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Duke of Sussex to launch team for next Invictus Games

Organisers have said that after 2020, Invictus will be staged every two years.

Prince Harry during the Invictus Games Closing Ceremony in 2017 (Danny Lawson/PA)
Prince Harry during the Invictus Games Closing Ceremony in 2017 (Danny Lawson/PA)

By Tony Jones, PA Court Correspondent

The Duke of Sussex will officially launch the team of injured and wounded military veterans and service personnel who will compete in the next Invictus Games.

A group of 65 sportsmen and women have been selected for the Paralympics-style event and will compete in the Netherlands next year.

This morning, Team UK also unveiled its first female captain, RAF veteran Rachel Williamson.

Ms Williamson previously received a rugby injury, which developed into a functional neurological disorder, leaving her unable to use her arm completely.

I’ve accepted my injury; learnt I can let my emotions go and not be embarrassed or afraid about asking for help. Rachel Williamson

She said this year was an opportunity to “build” a new version of herself and take the “final step” to where she wants to be.

“I’ve accepted my injury; learnt I can let my emotions go and not be embarrassed or afraid about asking for help. Now it’s time I raise the bar by trying new sports, being positive and happier with less excuses,” she said.

The veteran described the Invictus Games “as an amazing opportunity through sport to regain that sense of pride which can be lost following the onset of mental or physical disabilities”.

The team will compete in nine sports from athletics, archery, wheelchair basketball, cycling, power lifting, indoor rowing, wheelchair rugby, swimming and sitting volleyball.

Training will continue until May in various locations across the country as part of Help for Heroes’ extensive Sports Recovery programme and role to train and develop the team.

Hannah Lawton, of Help for Heroes and Chef de Mission for Team UK, said: “The 65 men and women selected to represent Team UK will not only gain a personal recovery benefit from taking part in the Games but they will hopefully inspire others suffering with life-changing injuries or illnesses that anything is possible.”

Harry staged the first Invictus Games in 2014, and last month celebrated the sporting event’s fifth anniversary describing the games as having changed society’s perception of disability and mental health.

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The Duke of Sussex speaks onstage at the Invictus Games 2018 closing ceremony (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

At the celebration, the duke said the wounded servicemen, women and veterans who have competed in the past four games have not only saved their own lives, but those of others they have inspired.

Harry was inspired to found the global tournament after attending the Warrior Games in Colorado in 2013 and seeing how injured American military personnel thrived on the challenge of taking part in competitive sports that aided their recovery.

He went on to stage the inaugural games in London’s Olympic Park in 2014, followed by Orlando in 2016, Toronto in 2017 and Sydney in 2018, with The Hague chosen for the 2020 event where 500 competitors will take part in 10 adaptive sports.

Organisers have said that after 2020, Invictus will be staged every two years.

At the launch, being staged in central London, the competitors will gathered together for the first time – one of 19 national teams who will be taking part in the event from May 9-16 in The Hague.

PA

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