How can they be recognised for their achievements and not given sympathy? Prince Harry asked these questions. On a trip to the Warrior Games in the USA in 2013 he saw how the power of sport could help physically, psychologically and socially. His mind was made up. London would host the inaugural Invictus Games, an international sporting event for wounded, injured and sick Service personnel.
The word ‘Invictus’ means ‘unconquered’. It embodies the fighting spirit of the wounded, injured and sick service personnel and what these tenacious men and women can achieve, post injury. The Games harness the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation, and generate a wider understanding and respect for those who serve their country.
These Games have shone a spotlight on the ‘unconquerable’ character of service men and women and their families and their ‘Invictus’ spirit. These Games have been about seeing guys sprinting for the finish line and then turning round to clap the last man in. They have been about teammates choosing to cross the line together, not wanting to come second, but not wanting the other guys to either. These Games have shown the very best of the human spirit.
Invictus Games competitors are the men and women who have come face-to-face with the reality of making a sacrifice for their country. They are the mothers, fathers, husbands and wives who have put their lives on the line and have suffered life-changing injuries. These people are the embodiment of everything the Invictus Games stands for. They have been tested and challenged, but they have not been overcome. They have proven they cannot be defeated. They have the willpower to persevere and conquer new heights. The Games shine a spotlight on the sacrifices these men and women made serving their country, and their indefatigable drive to overcome.
The Invictus Games is about much more than just sport – it captures hearts, challenges minds and changes lives.
by William Ernest Henley
Generations have drawn on the words of William Ernest Henley’s poem for strength during times of adversity. Henley was himself an amputee and the poem reflects his long battle with illness. The title means “unconquered” and the 16 short lines of the poem encapsulate the indefatigable human spirit, which is at the heart of the Invictus Games.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
Invictus, by William Ernest Henley