Former and current members of the military community are eagerly anticipating the sixth edition of the Invictus Games, as Team UK embarks on their journey to Germany. The event, initiated by Prince Harry and initially launched in London in 2014, is set to take place at the Merkur Spiel-Arena in Dusseldorf, starting this Saturday and extending until September 16. A total of 550 participants from 21 nations, all of whom are sick, wounded, or injured military personnel, will engage in 10 different team and individual sports.
Paul Case: From Aircraft Technician to Invictus Games Competitor
Paul Case, a 44-year-old veteran who currently works as a teaching assistant in Cornwall, shared his remarkable journey. Discharged as an aircraft technician in the Royal Air Force in 2014 due to a fall from height during a deployment in Afghanistan, he suffered brain damage following two tours of Iraq. Encouraged by his wife, he applied for the Games last year, preparing for his first appearances in indoor rowing and archery, skills he acquired during his application process. He expressed his excitement, emphasizing how the Invictus Games unite wounded and injured servicemen and ex-servicemen as a team, providing a sense of belonging and pride.
Team UK’s Departure and Ongoing Rehabilitation
Team UK departed from Birmingham Airport on a flight provided by AirTanker, accompanied by team staff, family members, and friends. Notably, some competitors were accompanied by support dogs. Of the 59 British competitors, nine are still actively serving in the Armed Forces, participating in the games as part of their ongoing rehabilitation from physical and mental injuries. Able Seaman James Wren, who has served in the Royal Navy for seven years, is one such individual. Currently undergoing treatment for post-traumatic stress, he will compete in indoor rowing, archery, and wheelchair basketball, highlighting the transformative impact of the Games on his life.
Expanding the Games and Royal Support
This year’s Invictus Games feature table tennis for the first time, alongside archery, athletics, indoor rowing, powerlifting, sitting volleyball, swimming, cycling, wheelchair basketball, and wheelchair rugby. Team UK, led by Royal Navy submarine officer Lieutenant Commander James Rogers, receives support from the Royal British Legion in partnership with the Ministry of Defence. Louise Assioun, the RBL’s Team UK Manager, expressed excitement for the event, emphasizing the significance of the Invictus Games as a pathway of recovery and an opportunity for competitors to engage in sports in front of their friends and family.
Defence Secretary’s Encouragement
Defence Secretary Grant Shapps praised the resilience and determination of wounded, injured, and sick veterans and service personnel as the Invictus Games commenced in Dusseldorf. He recognized the Games’ role in aiding recovery while fostering a sense of unity within the Armed Forces community, expressing his best wishes for Team UK’s journey at the Invictus Games.