The 500-athlete Invictus Games 2016 for wounded ex-servicemen has been held in Orlando, Florida with a very special guest helping out with the Jaguar Land Rover Driving Challenge – founder and patron Prince Harry.
The Royal didn’t only present the medals at the end of the driving event either: he took part in the final Driving Challenge round, joining Estonia in a Land Rover Discovery Sport and Denmark in a Jaguar XF.
Prince Harry’s high-profile support comes as Jaguar Land Rover announces plans to recruit 1,000 ex-service men and women by 2020 – a five-fold increase on today’s numbers. The firm says it’s offering former armed forces recruits “the opportunity to rebuild their lives and careers… (with) opportunities for passionate people to unleash their full potential”.
The Orlando Invictus Games 2016 was the second to be held after the inaugural event in London 2014. 500 athletes from 14 nations competed over five days in numerous sports such as tennis, cycling and athletics.
Jaguar Land Rover held the driving round – the opening event of the Games – and it was this event that received full royal support from ex-serviceman Prince Harry, to the delight of the 11 competing nations in this part of the competition.
It was the first competitive medal event of the 2016 Games: France won gold, with Estonia taking silver and Denmark taking bronze. Prince Harry presented medals to all three teams.
What are the Invictus Games?
Prince Harry helped found the paralympic-style multi-event Invictus Games for wounded ex-servicemen in 2014, helped by the backing of Jaguar Land Rover. The first event was held in September 2014 at venues used in the 2012 London Olympics.
The second Invictus Games at Orlando was opened by VIPs including Michelle Obama; sporting events over the five-day games include track and field, archery, indoor rowing, wheelchair basketball and a triathlon – plus, of course, the Jaguar Land Rover driving event.
This year, HRH said he wanted the 2016 Games to help “smash the stigma” around military mental health issues such as Post-Traumatic Tress Disorder.”There’s no reason people should be hiding in shame after they’ve served their country,” he said.
“We are all grateful to HRH Prince Harry for founding and championing this visionary idea of the Games,” said Jaguar Land Rover CEO Dr Ralf Speth.
“We congratulate him and the organising committee on establishing yet another inspiring Invictus Games.”
The next Invictus Games will be held in Toronto, Canada in 2017.