Invictus Games: Prince Harry hopes athletes will offer inspiration – BBC News

Media captionPrince Harry opens Invictus Games in Florida

Prince Harry says he hopes the Invictus Game will “inspire people” affected by mental illness to seek help.

The prince, who founded video games for injured veterans, said at the opening ceremony in Florida that it was “not just physical traumata that our Invictus competitors have overcome”.

This is the second time video games have been operate, after London in 2014.

More than 500 athletes from 14 countries will compete in athletics including athletics, rugby and tennis.

Thousands of people attended the lively welcoming ceremony which included speeches from US First Lady Michelle Obama, Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman and former US President George W Bush. There is likewise performances by British vocalist James Blunt and the soprano Laura Wright.

The BBC’s Aleem Maqbool, who was at the ceremony, said it was “at some times a very emotional event with injured veterans telling their stories” and Prince Harry describing his own experience of 10 years in the British Army.

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Image caption Michelle Obama and Prince Harry posed for photos with the children of servicemen and women at the opening ceremony

Prince Harry told spectators: “It is not just physical traumata that our Invictus competitors have overcome.

“Every single one of them will have tackled tremendous emotional and mental challenges. When we devote a standing ovation to the challenger with the missing legs, let’s also cheer our hearts out for the man who overcame anxiety so severe he couldn’t leave his house.

“Let’s cheer for the woman who fought through post-traumatic stress and let’s celebrate the soldier who was brave enough to get help for his depression.”

Media captionPrince Harry talks to canadian athletes ahead of the Invictus Games

He added: “To those of you watching at home and who are suffering from mental illness in silence – whether a veteran or a civilian, a mum or a father, a teenager or a grandparent – I hope you insure the fortitude of our Invictus champs who have confronted invisible traumata, and I hope you are inspired to ask for the help that you need.”

In an interview with the BBC the prince described the Game as a popular cause to benefit “people who had set their lives on the line”.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The US Marine Corps silent drill team also performed
Image copyright AP
Image caption More than 500 athletes from 14 countries will compete
Image copyright MOD
Image caption The UK has high hopes for the weightlifting tournament on Monday
Image copyright @WeAreInvictus
Image caption A military band played the American national anthem to start the demonstrate

British cycling competitor Craig Preece, who suffered injuries to both legs in a bomb blast in Afghanistan, said he was looking forward to being able “to showcase to the world what we can still do”.

The Paralympic-style tournament will feature way and field athletics, indoor rowing, sitting volleyball, wheelchair rugby, tennis and basketball as well as cycling, swimming, archery and triathlon.

Heats and preliminary rounds were held over the weekend. The finals schedule begins on Monday with powerlifting from 08:00 local time( 13:00 BST) followed by rowing at 13:30( 18:30 BST) and archery 19:00( midnight BST ).

Live coverage, behind-the-scenes action and commentary will also be featured on the BBC Sport website.

Coverage of day one of the Games including highlights of the opening ceremony is likely to be broadcast on BBC One at 19:30 and 20:30 BST each day .

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