Wounded, injured and sick military personnel and veterans are competing across 10 sports for one of the 100 places available on the UK team. HRH Prince Harry, patron of the Invictus Games Foundation, watched the trials at the University of Bath on Friday morning.
The trials, which are being run by Help for Heroes with support from the MOD and the Royal British Legion, will be hosted at the university over three days. Sporting events include track and field, powerlifting, wheelchair tennis, sitting volleyball, archery and wheelchair basketball.
More than 500 athletes from 15 countries will gather in Orlando, Florida, for the second Invictus Games in May. Team selection is based on the benefits the games will give an individual as part of their recovery, combined with performance and commitment to training. The UK team will be announced on 6 April.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said, “I wish all those taking part in the trials the best of luck. Having made great sacrifices while protecting their country, they are rising to a new challenge with strength and determination. The Invictus Games will provide inspiration and opportunity and will demonstrate the importance of sport in the recovery process.”
The Invictus Games support recovery and rehabilitation as taking part in sport helps with self-confidence and with feeling psychologically empowered.
Major Bruce Ekman, aged 36 of Colchester-based 16 Air Assault Brigade, who suffered serious leg and foot injuries when his vehicle hit an IED in Afghanistan in 2011, said he was humbled to be taking part in the Invictus Games process for a second time, having won silver in the 400m and bronze in the 1500m at the Invictus Games in London in 2014.
He said, “It’s a privilege to be able take part in these games again. The opportunity to compete alongside fellow injured soldiers is amazing. And to compete with soldiers from around the world, too, is really humbling.
“We’d like to say a huge thank you to Prince Harry for the support he gives to us, especially creating these games for us to enjoy. It’s something just for us and it gives injured soldiers an event to call our own, and something we have in common.”
The inaugural 2014 Games in London brought together more than 400 current and former personnel from 13 nations. As in 2014, the MOD will work with Help for Heroes in the training and selection of the UK team.
The Invictus Games Orlando 2016 will take place from 8 to 12 May at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.