LONDON (AFNS) -- More than 5,000 people attended the Invictus Games’ opening ceremony Sept. 10, on the South Lawn of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, here.
The ceremony included remarks by first lady Michelle Obama and Prince Harry of Wales; a flyover by the Royal Air Force’s aerial aerobatic team, The Red Arrows; a ground display by The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery and a competitor’s parade, giving spectators a look at the more than 400 Invictus Games athletes here to represent their countries.
“I’m looking forward to coming together as a nation and representing (Team USA) and all of us together to show our nations what we’ve got,” said retired Capt. Sarah Evans, who represented the U.S. in the introductory ceremony. Afterward, the first lady thanked the competitors and their family members in a taped message.
“Some of the most inspiring moments I’ve had as first lady have been when I’ve met with wounded warriors like so many of you,” Obama said. “You tell me how you’re not just going to recover but you’re going to thrive. You tell me you’re not just going to walk again but you’re going to run and you’re going to run marathons. I’ve seen that resilience and drive firsthand at the Warrior Games here in the United States, and I couldn’t be more thrilled that the spirit of those games is now on display across the pond at the first ever Invictus Games.
“To all of the competitors here today, I want you to know how incredible you are. You’re inspiring all of us, especially our young people,” she continued. “You’re inspiring them to believe that if we dig deeper, if we work harder, if we confront the adversity in our own lives with just a fraction of the courage you show every day that there’s nothing we can’t achieve. To all the family members and caregivers in the audience, I want you to know that your courage and support doesn’t go unnoticed either. These heroes wouldn’t be here today without you.”
After her words, Prince Harry took the stage to welcome the competitors, their families and caregivers, and those in attendance to watch the Invictus Games.
“It gives me great pleasure to welcome the 13 nations to London and to say how delighted that many of you have been joined by your families, and we recognize the vital part they play in your recovery,” he said to the competitors. “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 chapter in their recovery and the beginning of a new one.
“Either way, you can be sure everyone who takes part in the track, pool or field of play will be giving it their all, and I have no doubt lives will be changed this weekend,” he said.
The Invictus Games will take place Sept. 10-14 at the site of the 2012 summer Olympics and will feature athletes from 14 nations competing in various Paralympic-style events including swimming, track and field, seated volleyball, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby, among others.