Invictus games hailed a success as talk turns to legacy
PUBLISHED: 16:03 17 September 2014 | UPDATED: 16:03 17 September 2014
Talk has already turned to legacy after the first ever Invictus Games came to a close following four-days of thrilling disability sport.
Hosts Great Britain triumphed with 72 gold medals, seeing off close rivals the USA in three spectacular televised finals at the Copper Box Arena in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park last week.
More than 65,000 people packed into the former Olympic venues to see upwards of 400 wounded, sick or injured serving and ex military personnel compete in 13 national teams over nine adaptive sports.
They included wheelchair rugby, sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball, indoor rowing, powerlifting, swimming, road cycling, archery and athletics.
Foreign nations have already expressed an interest in hosting the Invictus Games next year, according to tournament chairman Sir Keith Mills who claimed discussions were ongoing with “a number of nations”.
He said in a statement: “We always wanted these Games to be more than just a one-off event and have had some approaches from a number of nations interested in talking to us about hosting in the future.
“We will continue these discussions and have others over the next few months to agree how the Games can be taken forward.”
The tournament kicked off on Wednesday last week with a fly-over from the Red Arrows and a reading from Newham-born Hollywood star Idris Elba of the poem Invictus, by William E Henley, that has inspired the philosophy and branding of the Games.
Sunday saw a marathon five-hour closing ceremony headlined by American rockers the Foo Fighters with the likes of Ellie Goulding, the Kaiser Chiefs, James Blunt, Rizzle Kicks and The Vamps.
Prince Harry, the major driving force behind the Games, took to the stage in front of the 26,000-strong crowd to deliver a message from HM The Queen and HRH Prince Philip.
Saying it was a message from “granny”, the serving army captain read aloud: “As I have followed the competition over the past four days, I have been deeply moved by your courage, determination and talent.
“All of you have used the power of sport to enhance your own recovery and to raise wider awareness of the enormous challenges faced by wounded veterans.
“The success of these Games can be measured not by medals won, but by the renewed sense of purpose and confidence in your abilities that you have gained.”
In his own words, he added: “These games have shone a spotlight on the unconquerable character of servicemen and women and their families – their invictus spirit.”
Millions of people have tuned in to more than 13 hours of coverage of the events on the BBC, the official broadcaster, according to a spokesman.
Organisers have said the Games were delivered on budget and on time, despite a short turn around of just six months.
Captain of Team Great Britain, Dave Henson, who stormed to victory on the athletics track and claimed another gold as part of the sitting volleyball team, said he had been “humbled” by the support from the public.
“I knew it’d be special but this has been something else. I can’t sum it up in words,” he said. “This has meant so much.”