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Prince Harry Launches Sydney Invictus Games With Truly Inspiring Speech

What a bloke.

07/06/2017 11:35 AM AEST | Updated 07/06/2017 2:05 PM AEST
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Another reason to be wild about Harry.

Prince Harry just gave a really great speech as he launched the Sydney 2018 Invictus Games -- the Paralympic-style multi-sport event for injured or sick armed-service personnel which he founded in 2014.

Sydney will host the 2018 Invictus Games 500 days from this Wednesday. Prince Harry spent 10 years in the British armed forces including two tours of Afghanistan, so the cause is incredibly close to his heart.

We've included the full speech below, but a couple of the most poignant parts were this:

It was that flight home from Afghanistan that put me on the path to the games. While we waited to board, a coffin of a young Danish soldier was put on the plane, and three soldiers in induced comas, all three wrapped in plastic, some with missing limbs and tubes coming out everywhere. The sacrifices we ask our men and women to make came home so powerfully to me in those moments.

And this:

Four years later, after another tour in Afghanistan, I began to look for ways in which to support the veterans who returned with injuries who in previous years simply would have been unsurvivable. When I visited the Warrior Games in Colorado, I knew what to do. Sport would make the difference and help them fix their lives and reconnect with those around them. The spectacle of sport combined with recovery against the odds would inspire everyone who saw it.

And this:

Sport has an unparalleled ability to bring people together. For those recovering from injury, it has the ability to refocus the mind, to bring a sense of purpose and boost self-confidence. The benefits which come from sport goes beyond the individual, it positively impacts their family too.

The whole speech is below. And here's a link to the Sydney 2018 Invictus Games website.

Thank you very much. Good day everybody. I would also like to start by sending my thoughts to those affected by Saturday's attack in London Bridge. Australians form an important and vibrant part of the fabric of life in London and we are reminded of that in good times and bad. And our hearts go out to the victims, their friends and families.

It is just over 100 days to the beginning of the next Invictus Games in Toronto. I am delighted to be here with you and your families as you prepare for the final team trials and a chance to represent Australia again. I am also glad that I have this opportunity to explain to the people of Australia why the Invictus Games are so important to me, and why I think it will be important for all of them too.

In February 2008, I was forced to leave Afghanistan. I had been serving as an army officer in the British army until my presence on the front line leaked out into the press. I could no longer stay with my soldiers as it would have put them at greater risk. It was a decision over which I had no control but the guilt at having to leave my guys behind was hard to swallow, as anyone who has served would understand.

It was that flight home from Afghanistan that put me on the path to the games. While we waited to board, a coffin of a young Danish soldier was put on the plane, and three soldiers in induced comas, all three wrapped in plastic, some with missing limbs and tubes coming out everywhere. The sacrifices we ask our men and women to make came home so powerfully to me in those moments. Four years later, after another tour in Afghanistan, I began to look for ways in which to support the veterans who returned with injuries who in previous years simply would have been unsurvivable. When I visited the Warrior Games in Colorado, I knew what to do. Sport would make the difference and help them fix their lives and reconnect with those around them. The spectacle of sport combined with recovery against the odds would inspire everyone who saw it.

I left Colorado with a determination to take it to an international audience so more people could see what I saw. Lives were changed in front of my eyes, amazing men and women proving the impossible is possible. That is exactly what we did when we held the first Invictus Games in 2014. We put on a show that attracted an audience of tens of thousands in the stands and many millions on television. Last year, we achieved it again in the US, providing an even bigger platform for these inspiring men and women to tell their stories to the world. And in September, we will do it again in Toronto, with more competitors, more sports and more spectators than ever before.

When I say 'we', I mean all of us. I was lucky to have spent time with several units in the Australian Defence Force when I was here in 2015. I am also lucky enough to call a number of diggers my mates. Having walked to the South Pole, sweated while on exercise on Kangaroo Flats outside Darwin and joined them for the centenary commemorations at Gallipoli. I understand what makes them tick. With my association with the ADF, I have an appreciation of what it means to be a digger and the admiration people have for you, not just here but across the world.

We are here today because in 500 days the Invictus Games will be held in one of the most sport-mad countries, and iconic cities, in the world. As founding patron of the Invictus Games Foundation I am so pleased that Australia and New South Wales will be taking on the Invictus Games baton from Canada and Toronto. Sport has an unparalleled ability to bring people together. For those recovering from injury, it has the ability to refocus the mind, to bring a sense of purpose and boost self-confidence. The benefits which come from sport goes beyond the individual, it positively impacts their family too. I know all of you here today would agree that sport can change, and in some cases, save lives.

Invictus reminds us of the amazing contribution that servicemen and women and veterans make. You need look no further than the remarkable sportsmanship showed by Mark Urquhart last year. He sacrificed his gold won on the track to push his competitor from the US into first place, simply because he felt Stephen deserved it more.

Sydney will soon be the custodian of the Invictus spirit and the focus for hundreds of men and women using the Invictus Games to motivate their recovery from physical and mental injuries. I know people from across the country, from Perth to Sydney, from Darwin to Adelaide, will embrace the Invictus Games and show support for the competitors from towns right across the country. I know they will make the games their own and when they do, they will witness the best of human spirit, courage, inspiration and defiance on the track, on the court and in the pool. Competitors who give their all to cross the line first, but will then use what breath they have to encourage others to achieve their own goals.

In these challenging times we can all benefit from positive and inspiring stories from which to draw strength. The Invictus Games show us it is possible to overcome adversity and that the impossible is possible if you have the will. This spirit championed by the games extends far beyond the competition. When a bomb left a number of people with life-changing injuries in Manchester last month, wounded veterans, including Invictus team members, immediately offered themselves to offered advice and support to the victims through the recovery process. The commitment to serve is ingrained in every member of the armed forces and is the embodiment of the Invictus spirit.

I know you all agree with me that the men and women of the armed forces and veteran community do not need our sympathy. In fact, that is the last thing they want. But they do deserve the utmost respect and an opportunity to play a valued role in our communities. Duty and service is in their blood. The Invictus Games provides the launch pad from which they can fulfil these aspirations. I know those of you here today and many people who see the coverage of this launch will join me in creating a life-changing atmosphere for these competitors, family members and spectators alike.

The Invictus Games are coming to Australia. Game on, Down Under.

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