More than 250 wounded, injured and sick Veterans and Service Personnel united in Nottingham at the inaugural SportsFest at the weekend to discover the power of the Invictus Games to rebuild lives.
Led by Help for Heroes and its partners, hopefuls for the 2018 Games, set to be held in Sydney, tried all of the different sports on offer for the Games happening Down Under and had the opportunity to meet and speak with the professional sports coaches. This year, Help for Heroes has already seen more than 1,100 hopefuls register their interest for a place on the UK Team.
Jayne Kavanagh, Chef De Mission for the UK team, said: “The legacy of the Invictus Games is clear to see through the fact that more hopefuls than ever before have registered their interest for a place on the 2018 UK Team. The Invictus Games in London, Orlando and Toronto demonstrated how powerful sport is as a means of rebuilding confidence as well as aiding physical and mental recovery.
“It is brilliant to see how the success of the previous three Invictus Games has not only supported the recovery of those who took part but also inspired so many others to rebuild their lives through sport.
We recognise that for many, the thought of competing on an international stage is daunting. Through SportsFest we wanted them to realise that the Games aren’t just about sport and competition. Regardless of your injury, illness or impairment, the programme is about finding a purpose again, being part of a team and setting yourself new goals, no matter your sporting capabilities.”
It was the first time the event, held at Harvey Hadden Sports Village, had been run, with the aim of attracting more hopefuls new to the Games than ever before. Last year, 306 injured and sick servicemen, women and veterans applied for the Games, 212 of whom were new to Invictus and 62% of the selected team also being new to the Games.
One hopeful in attendance said: “I’m in the process of medical discharge and petrified of not being part of a team. It’s giving me focus to help in my recovery and I would like to make my children proud of me like they did when I was serving.”
Another hopeful added: “The positivity that is promoted by Invictus has encouraged me to follow my dreams. After my injury my life was shattered! I have rekindled a love for sport and the achievements made by so many comrades and athletes is overwhelming. Being part of the UK team would be an honour.”
The Invictus Games Sydney 2018 will be held from 20-27 October 2018. 500 competitors from across 18 nations will compete in ten different adaptive sports; archery, athletics, indoor rowing, powerlifting, road cycling, sailing, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby.
Help for Heroes has responsibility to train, select and develop the team. The MOD is a partner in the Defence Recovery Capability and The Royal British Legion will be supporting the Friends and Family of the UK Team.