Prince Harry gets emotional as he opens Invictus Games
It was Prince Harry's dream to bring the Invictus Games to life — and his dream has finally come true.
Inspired by the American Warrior Games, the Paralympic-style event features competition between soldiers severely wounded in battle. The cause is very near and dear to Harry's heart as he saw his share of combat as a British Army pilot in Afghanistan.
The prince's emotional speech at the opening ceremonies revealed exactly how much these games and the athletes mean to him.
"Over the past eight years, I have witnessed the whole cycle of life-changing injury; evacuating soldiers and local Afghans to hospital; flying home from Afghanistan with some of those critically injured; meeting others in hospital coming to terms with life-changing injuries; and finally trying to keep up with twelve wounded veterans on our way to the South Pole," he said.
"I can only begin to imagine how challenging the journey of recovery is, but the admiration I have for these men and women, to move beyond their injuries, is limitless.
"Last year, through The Royal Foundation, I visited the Warrior Games in the United States. Seeing people who, only months earlier, had been told they'd never walk again, now winning medals in front of their family and friends was breathtaking.
"I knew that anyone would be inspired by what these men and women had achieved, not just other servicemen and -women, but all those adjusting to life post-injury. Each of them have come such a long way; even making it to the start line is a huge achievement. Their stories are as amazing as they are unique.
"However, they all share one thing: sport. Sport has been the vehicle for their recovery, allowing them to channel their passion into what can be achieved, rather than what can't.
"No longer are these inspirational men and women defined by their injury but as athletes, competitors and teammates.
"Over the next four days we will see some truly remarkable achievements. For some of those taking part, this will be a stepping stone to elite sport, but for others it will mark the end of a chapter in their recovery, and the beginning of a new one."
Featuring 400 athletes from 13 nations, Harry told pals these games will take the place of any wild partying in honor of his upcoming 30th birthday. A wiser, more mature Harry is already emerging.