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Invictus Games come to a close, US places in team events

USA Team members gather to be recognized on stage Sept. 14, 2014, at the closing ceremony of the Invictus Games in London. Approximately 26,000 people were on hand for the event. The games featured athletes competing in various Paralympic-style events, including swimming, track and field, seated volleyball, wheelchair basketball, and wheelchair rugby, among others. (Courtesy photo)

USA Team members gather to be recognized on stage Sept. 14, 2014, at the closing ceremony of the Invictus Games in London. Approximately 26,000 people were on hand for the event. The games featured athletes competing in various Paralympic-style events, including swimming, track and field, seated volleyball, wheelchair basketball, and wheelchair rugby, among others. (Courtesy photo)

Approximately 26,000 people showed up to the closing ceremony for the inaugural Invictus Games Sept. 14, 2014, in London. The games featured athletes competing in various Paralympic-style events, including swimming, track and field, seated volleyball, wheelchair basketball, and wheelchair rugby, among others. (Courtesy photo)

Approximately 26,000 people showed up to the closing ceremony for the inaugural Invictus Games Sept. 14, 2014, in London. The games featured athletes competing in various Paralympic-style events, including swimming, track and field, seated volleyball, wheelchair basketball, and wheelchair rugby, among others. (Courtesy photo)

Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 1st Class John Kremer and his U.S. teammates walk along the net to congratulate Great Britain, winners of the sitting volleyball event, at the inaugural Invictus Games Sept. 14, 2014, in London. Great Britain defeated the U.S. in a best-out-of-five match. The Invictus Games featured athletes competing in various Paralympic-style events, including swimming, track and field, seated volleyball, wheelchair basketball, and wheelchair rugby, among others. (U.S. Navy photo/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Mark Logico)

Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 1st Class John Kremer and his U.S. teammates walk along the net to congratulate Great Britain, winners of the sitting volleyball event, at the inaugural Invictus Games Sept. 14, 2014, in London. Great Britain defeated the U.S. in a best-out-of-five match. The Invictus Games featured athletes competing in various Paralympic-style events, including swimming, track and field, seated volleyball, wheelchair basketball, and wheelchair rugby, among others. (U.S. Navy photo/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Mark Logico)

The USA Team poses for a picture as they placed second in the sitting volleyball finals at the Invictus Games Sept. 14, 2014, in London. Great Britain defeated the U.S. in a best-out-of-five match. The Invictus Games featured athletes competing in various Paralympic-style events, including swimming, track and field, seated volleyball, wheelchair basketball, and wheelchair rugby, among others. (U.S. Navy photo/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Mark Logico)

The USA Team poses for a picture as they placed second in the sitting volleyball finals at the Invictus Games Sept. 14, 2014, in London. Great Britain defeated the U.S. in a best-out-of-five match. The Invictus Games featured athletes competing in various Paralympic-style events, including swimming, track and field, seated volleyball, wheelchair basketball, and wheelchair rugby, among others. (U.S. Navy photo/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Mark Logico)

Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Max Rohn reaches for the ball during the sitting volleyball finals at the inaugural Invictus Games Sept. 14, 2014, in London. Great Britain defeated the U.S. in a best-out-of-five match. The Invictus Games featured athletes competing in various Paralympic-style events, including swimming, track and field, seated volleyball, wheelchair basketball, and wheelchair rugby, among others. (U.S. Navy photo/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Mark Logico)

Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Max Rohn reaches for the ball during the sitting volleyball finals at the inaugural Invictus Games Sept. 14, 2014, in London. Great Britain defeated the U.S. in a best-out-of-five match. The Invictus Games featured athletes competing in various Paralympic-style events, including swimming, track and field, seated volleyball, wheelchair basketball, and wheelchair rugby, among others. (U.S. Navy photo/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Mark Logico)

The U.S. fought hard in the wheelchair basketball finals, but fell 19-9 to Great Britain to take silver at the inaugural Invictus Games Sept. 13, in London. The Invictus Games featured athletes competing in various Paralympic-style events, including swimming, track and field, seated volleyball, wheelchair basketball, and wheelchair rugby, among others. (Courtesy photo)

The U.S. fought hard in the wheelchair basketball finals, but fell 19-9 to Great Britain to take silver at the inaugural Invictus Games Sept. 13, in London. The Invictus Games featured athletes competing in various Paralympic-style events, including swimming, track and field, seated volleyball, wheelchair basketball, and wheelchair rugby, among others. (Courtesy photo)

The U.S. fought hard in the wheelchair basketball finals, but fell 19-9 to Great Britain to take silver at the inaugural Invictus Games Sept. 13, in London. The Invictus Games featured athletes competing in various Paralympic-style events, including swimming, track and field, seated volleyball, wheelchair basketball, and wheelchair rugby, among others. (Courtesy photo)

The U.S. fought hard in the wheelchair basketball finals, but fell 19-9 to Great Britain to take silver at the inaugural Invictus Games Sept. 13, in London. The Invictus Games featured athletes competing in various Paralympic-style events, including swimming, track and field, seated volleyball, wheelchair basketball, and wheelchair rugby, among others. (Courtesy photo)

Army Sgt. Ryan McIntosh, representing the U.S., keeps the ball away from a defender during a wheelchair rugby match against Australia Sept. 12, 2014, at the 2014 Invictus Games in London. The U.S. won the match 14-4. Invictus Games is an international competition that brings together wounded, injured and ill service members in the spirit of friendly athletic competition. American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines are representing the U.S. in the competition which is taking place Sept. 10-14. (U.S. Navy photo/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua D. Sheppard)

Army Sgt. Ryan McIntosh, representing the U.S., keeps the ball away from a defender during a wheelchair rugby match against Australia Sept. 12, 2014, at the 2014 Invictus Games in London. The U.S. won the match 14-4. Invictus Games is an international competition that brings together wounded, injured and ill service members in the spirit of friendly athletic competition. American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines are representing the U.S. in the competition which is taking place Sept. 10-14. (U.S. Navy photo/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua D. Sheppard)

Three American defenders knock the ball away from an Australian player during a wheelchair rugby match Sept. 12, 2014, at the 2014 Invictus Games in London. The U.S. won the match 14-4. Invictus Games is an international competition that brings together wounded, injured and ill service members in the spirit of friendly athletic competition. American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines are representing the U.S. in the competition which is taking place Sept. 10-14. (U.S. Navy photo/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua D. Sheppard)

Three American defenders knock the ball away from an Australian player during a wheelchair rugby match Sept. 12, 2014, at the 2014 Invictus Games in London. The U.S. won the match 14-4. Invictus Games is an international competition that brings together wounded, injured and ill service members in the spirit of friendly athletic competition. American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines are representing the U.S. in the competition which is taking place Sept. 10-14. (U.S. Navy photo/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua D. Sheppard)

Members of the American and Australian wheelchair rugby teams congratulate each other after the U.S’s 14-4 victory over Australia Sept. 12, 2014, at the 2014 Invictus Games in London. Invictus Games is an international competition that brings together wounded, injured and ill service members in the spirit of friendly athletic competition. American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines are representing the U.S. in the competition which is taking place Sept. 10-14. (U.S. Navy photo/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua D. Sheppard)
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Members of the American and Australian wheelchair rugby teams congratulate each other after the U.S’s 14-4 victory over Australia Sept. 12, 2014, at the 2014 Invictus Games in London. Invictus Games is an international competition that brings together wounded, injured and ill service members in the spirit of friendly athletic competition. American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines are representing the U.S. in the competition which is taking place Sept. 10-14. (U.S. Navy photo/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua D. Sheppard)

LONDON -- Roughly 26,000 people showed up to give the inaugural Invictus Games an enormous sendoff and pay final respect to all the athletes involved here Sept. 14.

The ceremony proved festive with musical acts, food vendors, remarks from well-known celebrities and a speech by Prince Harry of Wales.

Prince Harry began by reading a letter from Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

“At this closing ceremony of the inaugural Invictus Games, Prince Phillip and I send our heartfelt congratulations to the organizers and supporters of this competition, and most importantly to you men and women of the armed forces who have overcome great adversity just to take part in these games.

“As I have followed the competition over the past four days, I have been deeply moved by your courage, determination and talent. All of you have used the power of sports to enhance your own recovery and to raise wider awareness of the enormous challenges faced by wounded veterans. The success of these games can be measured not by medals won, but by the renewed sense of purpose and confidence in your abilities that you have gained. I send my warmest wishes and congratulations to you all.”


He then went on to give his own impression of the Invictus Games.

“These games have shown a spotlight on the unconquerable character of service men and women and their families; their invictus spirit,” he said. “These games have been about seeing (wounded warriors) sprinting for the finish line, and then turning around to clap the last man in. They have been about teammates choosing to cross the (finish line) together, not wanting to come second, but not wanting the other guys too either. These games have shown the very best of human spirit.”

From there, Prince Harry went on to offer a moment of silence for those who made the ultimate sacrifice in battle, and said he hopes those with disabilities who are in the early stages of recovery draw strength from the inaugural Invictus Games.

The USA Team took silver in all three team events: sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby.

Though competition was fierce throughout each game, the competitors maintained a high level of respect for each other.

“I think it’s (brought) countries closer,” said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Chad Lukkes. “I’ve met friends from every single country out here who, without this experience, I probably would’ve never met.”

The idea for the Invictus Games was created by a visit from Prince Harry of Wales to the annual Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colorado. However, unlike the Warrior Games, which focuses on interservice competition, the Invictus Games focuses on international competition.

The competitors gathered for the festivities as a team for the last time, and celebrated the games with service members from other countries. Though thousands of people enjoyed the concert, the spirit of the contest remained steadfast.


“The closing ceremonies have been absolutely brilliant,” said Australian Defense Force Capt. Simon Bowen. “I cannot believe the amount of effort that has gone into these games.

“The wounded, injured and ill athletes around the world have come to this area and been welcomed righteously. Fantastic, I can’t say any more than that.”

As the ceremony closed, the athletes boarded their respective buses bound for hotels, and prepared for a trip back to their respective places in the world. Though they competed against each other for gold in the games, the nations are allies above all else, and that idea was not lost on anyone.

“The level of camaraderie between all the nations … whether there’s a medal or not is just unbelievable,” said retired Army Staff Sgt. Michael Kacer.

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